Smack-O-Lanterns: Meth-Filled Pumpkins Seized at Texas Border

Smack-O-Lanterns: Meth-Filled Pumpkins Seized at Texas Border
U.S. Customs agents found four pumpkins filled with over $400,000 in liquid methamphetamine at the Eagle Pass port of entry. | Image by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers over the weekend seized 44 pounds of liquid methamphetamine that — in line with the Halloween season — smugglers had stuffed into pumpkins.

Customs agents discovered the meth during an inspection at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry Office of Field Operations. The methamphetamine was packaged inside condoms that were stuffed inside four large pumpkins found in the suspect’s vehicle, according to the CBP press release.

“On Tuesday, October 11, 2022, CBP officers assigned to Eagle Pass Camino Real International Bridge encountered a 2012 Ford Escape arriving from Mexico,” the press release stated. “A CBP officer referred the vehicle for further inspection. After conducting a thorough secondary examination, officers seized a total of nearly 44 pounds (19.84 kg) of alleged liquid methamphetamine concealed within 136 condoms inside four pumpkins within the vehicle.” 

The street value of the narcotics seized was estimated at $402,196. 

“Our frontline CBP officers have seen just about everything, and this Tuesday was no exception as they encountered liquid methamphetamine hidden within pumpkins,” said Elizabeth Garduno, the acting port director of Eagle Pass Port of Entry. “They utilized their training, experience, [and] interviewing skills and uncovered a rather novel narcotics smuggling method in the process.”

Earlier this month, a man from San Benito was sentenced to prison for attempting to smuggle more than 250 kilos of meth in his gas tank, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas. He was taken into custody for pending warrants, and the meth was found during a vehicle search. 

Pedro Rodriguez III was sentenced on October 5 to 120 months in federal prison, followed by five years of supervision upon release. Rodriguez pleaded guilty on July 14, according to the press release, and the initial incident took place on January 11.

“Authorities searched his vehicle and found approximately 253.2 kilograms of liquid meth hidden inside an auxiliary gas tank,” the press release states. “Rodriguez admitted he knew the meth was inside the gas tank and had agreed to transport the narcotics from South Texas to Dallas.”

On August 25, five kilos of meth was intercepted in Memphis, Tennessee, on its way to Austin, Texas, according to a press release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBP officers seized the narcotics from bags of coffee. 

“So far this fiscal year, which began October 2021, the port of Memphis has seized over 800 kilograms of Methamphetamine,” the press release stated.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the southern border is part of a larger drug network that disseminates illegal substances throughout the U.S., making the smuggling of drugs a pressing issue for Texas and American citizens alike.

The availability of illicit drugs has led to an increase in addiction rates and overdose deaths. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that overdose deaths exceeded 100,000 nationwide — an increase of 28.5% from the year before.

In Texas, the CDC reported 4,834 deaths over a 12-month period ending in May 2022. However, this figure could be even higher, as the CDC noted it was working with incomplete data.

Governor Greg Abbott attributes the drug abuse epidemic to lax border controls.

“Sadly, this is a phenomenon that can be prevented if we all work together and if our federal government gets serious about protecting its citizens by securing our border,” he said at an Overdose Awareness Event in Montgomery County last August. “Substance abuse is a lifelong battle for many. We should muster every tool and every effort to help our fellow Texans negotiate the perils of addiction and emerge drug-free and healthy.”

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