FONTANA, Calif. - A marijuana smuggling scheme broken up overnight in the Inland Empire by investigators on the multi-agency Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Task Force gives new meaning to the term "drug mule."
Fifteen people were arrested after a cargo container seized at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex was found to contain $1.5 million worth of marijuana hidden in a shipment of concrete donkey statues, officials said Wednesday.
The seizure was made Tuesday night when U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers inspected a 40-foot cargo container that arrived at the port complex, destined for a fictitious business in Fontana, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Inside the container, officers found about 1,800 pounds of marijuana hidden inside about 200 concrete yard statues shaped like donkeys, each about three feet tall, ICE reported.
Investigators with the Los Angeles Border Enforcement Security Task Force then arrested 15 people during searches and traffic stops in Sun Valley and Fontana. The multi-agency task force was assisted by officers from the Los Angeles and Fontana police departments.
"The fact (that) drug smugglers are resorting to such unusual ruses shows that the work of the new (task force) is having an impact," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in Los Angeles.