A Mexican national with "trusted-traveler" status was arrested Wednesday for attempting to smuggle nearly $548,000 worth of methamphetamine at the Nogales port of entry, authorities said.

Guadalupe Loaiza-Bastidas, 49, was found to be carrying more than 35 pounds of meth in the rear inside panels of his Toyota van, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

Loaiza-Bastidas had qualified for SENTRI, the Secure Electronic Network for Traveler's Rapid Inspection, which expedites the inspection process for low-risk travelers, officials said.

He was approved for the program after he passed an extensive background check and interview.

"SENTRI members are treated with a higher level of trust, but are not exempt from inspection," said Port Director Guadalupe Ramirez, in a news release.

"Those attempting to exploit the program will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, regardless of whether they enter through SENTRI (commuter) lanes or other crossing lanes," Ramirez said.

The van and drugs were seized, and Loaiza-Bastidas was turned over to officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

Comments disabled.