Six people were arrested in separate incidents in Nogales for attempting to smuggle drugs and cash totaling nearly $1.5 million in value, federal authorities said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized methamphetamine, heroin and cash during a four-day period with the help of drug-sniffing dogs.

According to federal officials:

  • On Monday, Francisco J. Espinoza-Ibarra, 46, of Mexico, was arrested after more than 20 pounds of heroin was found in the rear bumper of his Jeep SUV at the DeConcini port of entry. 
  • On Sunday, a 19-year-old woman, also of Mexico, was arrested at the Mariposa port of entry when she attempted to smuggle more than nine pounds of heroin. The woman, whose name was not released, was traveling in a commercial bus. The heroin was valued at nearly $127,500.
  • On Saturday, Ramon Ibarra-Chaparro, 56, of Mexico, was arrested after officers at the Mariposa port of entry found about 45 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in the bed of his Ford truck. The drug was valued at about $695,000.
  • On Friday, three separate arrests were made involving:
  • Marcos Esquer, 34, of Nogales, Ariz., who was arrested for trying to transport $96,880 of unreported U.S. currency into Mexico. Esquer was taken into custody at the DeConcini port of entry after the money was found hidden in the engine of his Ford truck.
  • Juan Manuel Peralta, 22, of Nogales, Ariz., was taken into custody when he attempted to enter through the Morley pedestrian gate, and nearly six pounds of heroin was found sewn into the lining of a suitcase he was carrying. The heroin was worth about $79,000.
  • Abraham Aguilar-Cota, 24, of Mexico, was arrested for attempting to smuggle methamphetamine through the DeConcini port of entry. Ten packages of meth, weighing more than 12 pounds, were found in the frame of his Dodge sedan. The drugs were valued at $197,000.

All six were turned over to federal investigators, and the drugs and vehicles were seized.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at or 573-4104.