Hazmat Unit Responds to Failed Smuggling Attempt at Brownsville Port of Entry

Hazmat Unit Responds to Failed Smuggling Attempt at Brownsville Port of Entry
7 years 4 months 4 weeks ago Thursday, December 29 2016 Dec 29, 2016 December 29, 2016 10:16 PM December 29, 2016 in News

BROWNSVILLE - A CBP agent suffered an allergic reaction to a chemical used to sneak drugs past the Brownsville point of entry.

Denise Martinez, 58, was arrested after trying to smuggle 300 pounds of marijuana hidden inside two air conditioning units Wednesday night.

CBP said countless of vehicles make their way through the Brownsville’s Gateway International Bridge every night. In this case, a canine unit tracked something suspicious inside Martinez’s SUV.

While trying to remove the bundles, one CBP officer suffered an allergic reaction to something on the drugs. A Brownsville hazmat unit responded to the scene shortly after.

Brownsville Fire Chief Carlos Elizondo said he’s seen all sorts of tactics being used to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

“In the past, a lot of people have used a lot of different things to conceal their drugs or whatever they want to conceal,” he said. “They have these masking agents, whether it be petroleum, whether it be oil-based… They’re relentless, they use whatever they can.”

Cameron County Precinct 4 constable J.R. Gaitan said he’s also dealt with diversion tactics before. He said they’re always prepared with latex gloves when they try to dismantle any object.

Elizondo said the chemical sampled on these AC units was organic-based.

“The results are done immediately. So, we’ll know if it’s something that we need to either contain, separate, confine or we can just say it’s an all-clear. In this case it was an all-clear,” he said.  

Elizondo said their crews don’t frequently respond to these types of situations. However, he said they’re ready to do it if a call comes in.

Martinez is facing smuggling charges. CBP said 14 bundles of marijuana were seized from her vehicle.

The CBP officer was treated and released.

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