Wellton agents catch four groups smuggling 534 pounds of meth

Contributed Photo/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Four different groups of smugglers were apprehended backpacking $1 million worth of methamphetamine through the desert.

Contributed Article/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

YUMA – Yuma Sector Border Patrol agents assigned to the Wellton station arrested four different groups attempting to smuggle 534 pounds of methamphetamine worth nearly $1 million through the desert over the weekend.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection: A total of 534 pounds of meth was seized from four separate backpacking groups.

At approximately 3 p.m. Saturday, agents spotted a group hiding under a Palo Verde tree on the Luke Air Force Base bombing range east of Wellton, Arizona. Agents approached the tree and apprehended a 17-year-old unaccompanied child and a 48-year-old man as they tried to flee the area. They also located three backpacks containing 120 pounds of methamphetamine under the tree. Agents took custody of the smugglers and the methamphetamine, estimated to be worth $216,000.  

Less than 24 hours later, an agent operating an all-terrain vehicle near Sentinel, Arizona, encountered a group of three, who were also hiding under a tree in the area. Agents discovered the three adult males carrying backpacks containing 110 pounds of methamphetamine, worth $198,000. Agents arrested the men and seized the methamphetamine.

Agents assigned to Wellton’s Target Enforcement Unit encountered two different groups of nine early Monday morning. Both groups were detected and subsequently apprehended east of Wellton. One of the groups was found to be smuggling 195 pounds of methamphetamine worth $351,000 while the other group was attempting to smuggle 109 pounds of methamphetamine worth more than $196,000.

In all the events, the smugglers were wearing camouflage clothing to conceal themselves and blend in with the environment. They also wore foam and carpet booties over their shoes to avoid leaving shoe prints in the dirt.