A creative smuggling attempt goes wrong at the border.
After trying to pull a U-ey upon seeing an immigration checkpoint, a white funeral hearse was stopped by Border Patrol outside famed Tombstone, Arizona earlier this month — agents found 67 pounds of marijuana in the casket in the back.
This is the second famous smuggling failure for the driver, Christian Lee Zuniga. In 2015, police arrested him and an alleged accomplice for trying to smuggle 19 manure-covered bales of marijuana in a horse trailer.
Zuniga made a lot of poor decisions in the run up to the arrest starting with the turnaround at the checkpoint. If you went through all the trouble to get a hearse isn’t this the moment you roll the dice? What’s the point of the hearse and the casket? You know you’re screwed, you have one chance to convince these guys, like many before you, all is well. Beeline straight for the checkpoint fully committed with your preconceived story straight.
Here’s how I would do it:
“Why hello sir, what an efficient checkpoint. Is it OK if I just keep the window up a bit as to not lose the A/C? Wouldn’t want to get Ethel back there too toasty.” At which point I would close with a warm endearing laugh.
Border Patrol: “Hello young man, what well-cut suit. Sorry for the delay today, you’re not carrying and drugs, foreign nationals, fruit, or other contraband in the back are you?”
“No sir, Ethel loved the Second Amendment and wanted to be buried somewhere with two firearms on the municipal seal, thank God somewhere like Tombstone exists.”
Border Patrol: What a heartwarming tale. You’re free to go.
If they bust out the K-9 things may start to unravel. At this step one should not consent to searches based on firm support of the Fourth Amendment. Keep your mouth shut and let your lawyer argue, “What were those creeps doing looking in coffins?”
This type of creativity in smuggling isn’t as popular as it used to be. While obviously the big dogs of the border are building and losing tunnels all the time, the smaller marijuana middle men have long been more spectacular with everything from catapults to gyrocopters.
While obviously a long time crossing point for any and all contraband, the U.S./Mexico border picked up more traffic over the last few decades as satellite coverage of the Caribbean forced a lot move north on land. This boom was big for the cartels who controlled the corridors and many have perished as they work to lockdown that control. However, president’s theories that more drugs are crossing the border than ever before, cannabis progress north of the border has slashed imports.
In 2015, nearly 1,000,000 less pounds of drugs were seized at the border then in 2011. Cannabis is the bulkiest of the drugs being transferred over the border and the numbers have proved to be a clear indicator of how the cartel’s cannabis sales are doing in the age of legalization.
Another surprising find from the recent bust in Arizona was the valuation the border patrol put on the cannabis. Their $33,000 dollar valuation of the 67 pounds would put them at about $492 dollars a piece, this is not far off from current market value on Northern California outdoor. The number is actually a bit below market value, in the past it had been the exact opposite
As David Henderson, a professor of economics at Naval Postgraduate School and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University told Village Voice, “I remember years ago when they seized these amounts, they’d always tend to overvalue. They’d always value at retail.”
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