Tour bus crosses border with $10M in cocaine

Posted at 3:03 PM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 21:42:29-04

A tour bus driven across the U.S.-Mexico border early Tuesday was trailed to a Wilmington auto shop and found to have 182 pounds of cocaine -- with a street value of about $10 million -- stashed in a hidden compartment, authorities said.

Three suspects were arrested when authorities served a search warrant at the shop later in the morning.

The contraband was hidden in a compartment fashioned over the left rear wheel well, said El Segundo police Lt. Carlos Mendoza, a member of LA IMPACT -- the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force.

The task force is compromised of investigators from a multitude of local, state and federal agencies.

Mendoza said the bus had been observed crossing the U.S.-Mexico border numerous times in the past. The vehicle aroused suspicion because it was not seen carrying passengers.

When the bus crossed the border at San Ysidro at 4 a.m. Tuesday, investigators followed it to the Wilmington auto shop in the 500 block of North Avalon Boulevard, said Mendoza.

After the bus arrived at the shop, two people were seen offloading cargo taken from the left rear wheel well of the bus, according to Mendoza. The hidden compartment had not been detected during a search of the bus at the border, he said.

Investigators served a search warrant at the business at 9 a.m.

Three people -- identified as Victor Fainz Miranda, Jaime Jimenez, and Humberto Vazquez -- were taken into custody, according to Rachele Huennenkens, press secretary for Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Inaugurated in July 1991, LA IMPACT is tasked with investigating major crimes in Los Angeles County, with an emphasis on dismantling mid- to major-level drug trafficking organizations.