Border Patrol agents stopped a hearse at an immigration checkpoint in southeastern Arizona as it attempted to bring nearly 70 pounds of marijuana into the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Willcox Border Patrol agents assigned to the State Route 80 Immigration Checkpoint discovered the hearse north of Tombstone and directed an immigration vehicle stop at the intersection of Highway 90 and Highway 82.
A narcotics-detecting canine indicated illicit substances, and a subsequent search revealed that the coffin did not contain human remains.
Upon inspecting the car, agents found that the mahogany casket did not have a deceased person inside but rather 67 pounds of marijuana, the border service reported. At the wheel of the hearse, a 28-year-old male provided inconsistent and confusing information to the officers, according to The New York Post.
Border Patrol agents are used to all kinds of tricks and gimmicks with which drug traffickers try to circumvent border control. But to date, they had not seen anything like this. The marijuana was stored in small, brick-sized packages, and the market value of the drug is estimated to have reached $33,000.
The hearse was forced to stop at Tombstone on State Highway 80 after agents saw the funeral procession initially travel south and shortly thereafter north and west before arriving at the immigration checkpoint, raising suspicions.
The drug packages had been mixed with manure to diffuse the smell of marijuana. But that did not stop the dogs from alerting to the contents inside the casket.
The hearse and drugs were turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). while the driver was arrested for narcotics smuggling.
In recent years, CBP Tucson Sector CBP has discovered a wide range of techniques and devices used by organized crime groups to smuggle drugs or people from Mexico into the United States, including sophisticated narco tunnels, modified off-road trucks, ramps, catapults, cannons, drones, ultralight aircraft, and go-kart vehicles.