Dec 7, 2012 5:01 PM by Ian Cross

'Trusted Traveler' busted at the border with cocaine

TUCSON - A Yuma woman who was a member of a trusted traveler program was arrested at the Port of San Luis Wednesday after a drug-sniffing dog alerted to the presence of cocaine in her purse, according to a news release from Customs and Border Protection.

Officials state that Maria Valle, 46, applied for entry at the port when the dog alerted to the presence of drugs. Officers conducted an inspection and found 15.5 pounds of cocaine in her purse, worth an estimated $141,000.

Valle was arrested, and her membership in the Secure Electronic Network for Traveler's Rapid Inspection membership was revoked, the release stated. Valle, her vehicle, and the cocaine were transferred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

Membership in the SENTRI program requires an extensive background check and in-person interview, but members are given access to a dedicated commuter lane that expedites the inspection process.

"SENTRI members are treated with a higher level of trust, but are not exempt from inspection." said Acting Port Director Robert L. Schroeder. "Violations such as drug smuggling will not be tolerated and those attempting to exploit the program will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."


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