EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Border crossers who participate in the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection program must undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.
The program, SENTRI for short, allows for the expedited clearance of pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. It lets participants use dedicated primary lanes at ports of entry.
“The use of SENTRI is a privilege, but participants are not exempt from inspection,” said CBP El Paso Acting Port Director Samuel Cleaves. “Sometimes we encounter individuals who attempt to circumvent the process. Therefore, we trust but verify that users are not violating the law and the rules of the SENTRI program.”
That trust was broken on the morning of May 11 when a woman attempted to smuggle a shipment of cocaine through the SENTRI lane at the Stanton Street Bridge in Downtown El Paso.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the woman, a 25-year-old from Mexico, was driving into the U.S. when a drug-sniffing dog alerted border officers to her vehicle.
CBP officers then conducted both a non-intrusive X-Ray scan and a physical inspection of the vehicle before discovering several bundles of cocaine hidden within the dashboard area.
CBP officers found and seized just under 20 pounds of cocaine. They also confiscated the vehicle and turned the woman over to Homeland Security Investigations, with whom she faces charges in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.