Enforcement Administration (DEA) reporting reveals a possible emerging trend in
trafficking narcotics across the Southwest Border (SWB)
through the use of state-approved “medical marijuana”1 card holders.
Single source reporting indicates that Mexico-based drug traffickers use
individuals with state-approved medical
marijuana cards who drive decoy cars with the smell of marijuana to distract
U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents, while secondary vehicles concealing large
narcotic shipments pass through the port-of-entry or checkpoint unnoticed.


Although the
use of decoy vehicles while traveling through SWB checkpoints is a well-known
smuggling tactic, the use of medical marijuana card holders represents the
possibility of a new trend in vehicle-based trafficking and presents a new
challenge for personnel working along the SWB. This trend could be particularly
problematic in California. Arizona, and New Mexico given current state
regulations authorizing medical marijuana; Texas does not have state-approved
medical marijuana.


During 2014,
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reporting identified several SWB
encounters during which canine drug detection units alerted on vehicles tor the
possible presence of narcotics; secondary searches of these vehicles ensued
only for the individuals who claimed they were medical marijuana patients and
presented state-approved medical marijuana cards. During one of these
incidents, one gram of marijuana was located, seized, and the individual was
released. In two other incidents, no contraband was located but the individuals
advised they smoked marijuana; in both instances, the individuals were not detained
and were allowed to enter the United States.

DEA Bulletin

Marijuana Cards Used as Decoy Tactic, January 2015
[6 Pages, 1.7MB]