Hot Cargo: $2.3 Million Worth of Cannabis Found in Jalapeño Shipment

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agents found some cannabis in a shipment that was “fire.”

Agents at the Otay Mesa cargo facility in Southern California found over 7,500 pounds of cannabis hidden in a large shipment that also included jalapeño peppers. The cannabis was estimated to be worth approximately $2.3 million.


“I am proud of the officers for seizing this significant marijuana load,” Otay Mesa Port Director Rosa Hernandez said in a release by the agency. “Not only did they prevent the drugs from reaching our community, they also prevented millions of dollars of potential profit from making it into the hands of a transnational criminal organization.”

Acting CPB Commissioner Mark Morgan echoed Hernandez’s praise of the Otay Mesa agents via Twitter.

A canine team patrolling the area first identified the jalapeño shipment as something investigators should examine further. Agents searched the shipment and found 314 individually wrapped packages of cannabis.

The release by CPB stated “a 37-year-old male Mexican citizen entered the port of entry driving a tractor pulling a trailer with cargo manifested as jalapeño peppers.” It is unclear if the man driving the tractor was aware of what was inside the shipment or if any arrests were made.

This comes after a similar bust at the Otay Mesa facility on August 13 where 10,642 pounds of cannabis was found in a shipment of plastic auto parts.

Although cannabis is legal in California, ports of entry are still a hotbed for illegal shipments of the drug. Cannabis that makes it through ports undetected may end up in other states or even find its way to California’s black markets.

California still contends with a high number of illegal cannabis sales especially as consumers are charged very high tax rates on recreational purchases. Local municipalities have a fair amount of leeway when setting tax rates on cannabis. When local and state fees are combined, some consumers end up paying 40 percent in taxes on recreational cannabis products.