Anonymous tip leads to Mexican woman’s arrest in smuggling case

Docs: Cocaine hidden in vehicle’s dashboard

The federal courthouse at Bentsen Tower, located on Bicentennial Boulevard in McAllen, is seen in this August 2018 file photo. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

McALLEN — A Mexican woman who was arrested as a result of an anonymous tip was denied bond Tuesday for her role in an attempt to smuggle cocaine into the country, court records show.

The woman’s arrest at a port of entry came April 16 shortly after an anonymous phone call to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials reported that Mayra Escobar-Salazar would try to enter the U.S. “driving a specific vehicle, with drugs concealed within the dashboard,” according to the complaint against her.

Court documents show that Escobar-Salazar allegedly tried smuggling a little more than 2 kilos of cocaine into the U.S.

During an inbound inspection of her vehicle at the Anzalduas International Bridge later that day, Escobar-Salazar gave a negative declaration to CBP officers for fruits, food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, weapons and currency over $10,000, according to records.

The 40-year-old woman claimed during the inspection that she was traveling from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico to shop in McAllen and was referred to secondary inspection because of the anonymous call.

“During a secondary inspection, a CBP K-9 drug detection team conducted a free air inspection which resulted in a positive alert for the odor of a controlled substance emanating from the vehicle,” the document stated. “CBPOs conducted a non-intrusive X-ray inspection and discovered anomalies in the dash of the vehicle.”

During a physical search of Escobar-Salazar’s vehicle, CBP officers found two packages concealed within the dashboard of the vehicle with a total weight of 2.24 kilograms of a substance that was confirmed to be cocaine.

After she was detained, Escobar-Salazar admitted to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents that she had been paid cash in exchange for the attempted cocaine smuggling, and that she made “several” previous smuggling trips into the U.S., the complaint stated.

Last week, Escobar-Salazar made her initial appearance in federal court before a U.S. magistrate judge, and was held in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, court notes show.

Escobar-Salazar faces two federal drug charges, illegal importation of a controlled substance and conspiracy to illegally import a controlled substance, court records show.