Agents: Dog thwarts chicharron smuggling

Border agents used to intercepting loads of drugs and piles of money busted a woman with unusual contraband - chicharrones.

The pork treats were found wrapped in a towel and stuffed inside a cereal box Monday as the woman tried to drive across the Mariposa Port of Entry in Nogales, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a news release.

The woman had told officers she had nothing to declare, but an agriculture canine sniffed out the concealed meat.

The pork was destroyed and the woman was fined.

Arizona Daily Star

$304K worth of pot seized at Nogales port

Two people were arrested Tuesday in separate incidents at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry for trying to smuggle about $304,000 worth of marijuana into the United States, a federal official said.

In the first incident, Silvester Padilla Romero, 42, of Tucson, was arrested after a drug dog alerted officers to marijuana hidden in Romero's Chevrolet truck, said Edith Serrano, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman.

More than 545 pounds of marijuana was found in the truck's back panels and a toolbox, Serrano said. The marijuana was wrapped in 110 packages, and officers also found 11 loose bundles, she said. Its estimated value was nearly $273,000.

In the second incident, Tasha Smith, 29, of Mesa, was arrested after officers found 16 packages of marijuana inside a spare tire in her Dodge SUV, Serrano said. The drugs weighed about 62 pounds and were valued at nearly $31,000, she said.

Both the vehicles and drugs were seized, and Romero and Smith are facing drug smuggling charges, Serrano said.

Carmen Duarte

Border officers: Cash hidden under clothes

A Nogales, Sonora, woman was arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle money into Mexico.

Nancy Melina Lopez-Martinez, 36, was apprehended as she made her way through the Mariposa Port of Entry, a news release said.

The cash was found on Lopez-Martinez when agents searched her Dodge sedan and noticed she appeared to be hiding something under her clothes, the release said.

The suspect, the car and the cash were turned over to state and local authorities for further processing.

Perla Trevizo

Suspected member of cartel is extradited

Attorney General Tom Horne said a suspected high-ranking member of the Sinaloa drug cartel has been extradited from Mexico to face charges in Arizona.

Rafael Enrique Araiza and 17 others were indicted in November 2010 by a grand jury on 65 counts that included illegally conducting a drug enterprise and money laundering.

Horne's office said some of the defendants have been convicted, but Araiza escaped to Mexico.

Authorities said Araiza was the head of a drug-trafficking organization that was uncovered by investigators with the Tucson Police Department. They said the marijuana brought into the United States by the organization was distributed throughout Southern Arizona and Nevada.

Araiza will be arraigned this week at the Pima County Courthouse.

The Associated Press

Napolitano to visit Arizona border

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other federal officials will be in Southern Arizona on Friday to inspect security operations along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Homeland Security Department said Napolitano, National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske and U.S. Customs and Border Protection acting Commissioner Thomas Winkowski plan to visit Douglas and Tucson.

During the visit, officials will meet with state and local law enforcement.

The Associated Press