“I Didn’t Know” Says Mexican Trucker Arrested In Largest Fentanyl Bust In U.S. History
Nogales, Arizona – U.S. Border Patrol (CBP) made the largest fentanyl drug bust in U.S. history on January 26, according to officials. Now the truck driver arrested in the bust claims he didn’t know the drugs were onboard his semi-truck.
Juan Antonio Torres Barraza, 26, of Mexico, faces two counts of possession with intent to distribute, stemming from his Jan. 26 arrest. According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court in Tucson, Torres Barraza told officers after his arrest that the trailer carrying a shipment of cucumbers was not his and that he would be paid about $37 to deliver them across the border.
Torres Barraza claims his boss sent him to pick up the load from a company called Logistic TEO in Nogales, Sonora at about 9:30 a.m. Torres said he took the trailer from a well-dressed man he did not know and hooked it up to the tractor,” the complaint says. “Torres said he did not feel anything was out of the ordinary and that this occasion was the first time he has seen a Logistic TEO truck.”
His destination was the C.H. Rivas warehouse in Rio Rico, Arizona. Once the shipment was delivered, he was told to return to Mexico, where he would be paid about $37 for the trip, according to the documents.
However, C.H. Rivas said it was unaware that the cucumber shipment seized on Jan. 26 was en route to its facility, adding that customs officers would usually notify the company when a truck headed to their warehouse was busted with drugs.
Agents discovered 94 packages containing 114 kilograms (252 pounds) of fentanyl, 179 kilograms (395 pounds) of methamphetamine, and 2 pounds of fentanyl in pill form hidden in compartments in the floor of the truck.
CBP officials said the seizure was the largest fentanyl bust in U.S. history. According to authorities, the amount seized was enough to deliver fatal doses to 57 million people. To put this in perspective, that’s enough to kill the entire populations of Texas, Arizona and New York state combined.
Officials estimate the street value for the fentanyl at over $102 million.
So far, Torres Barraza is the only arrest in the case, according to a spokesperson for Homeland Security Investigations in Arizona. But the investigation is ongoing.
Torres Barraza remains in federal custody pending the start of his trial in Tucson federal court.