Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone
A Tijuana man arrested in eastern San Diego County for allegedly smuggling nearly 250 pounds of fentanyl into the U.S. was charged Tuesday by San Diego federal prosecutors.
Alexis Benito Nuno, 24, was allegedly driving a pickup truck at around 3 a.m. Monday when he was stopped by U.S. Border Patrol Agents on eastbound Interstate 8 near Golden Acorn Casino in the Campo area.
Nuno was stopped partly due to a traffic stop he was involved in a week earlier, during which “agents noticed that he appeared nervous and his vehicle’s gas tank showed signs of tampering,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Border Patrol Agents assigned to the Campo Border Patrol Station found over 200 pounds of fentanyl inside of a 2015 Black GMC truck thanks to K-9 Aldaco. Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
During Monday’s traffic stop, a Border Patrol dog alerted agents to the vehicle, where 108 packages of suspected fentanyl pills were found hidden in the gas tank and spare tire, according to prosecutors.
The contents of the packages tested positive for fentanyl and weighed approximately 249 pounds, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
The U.S. Border Patrol said the haul would have had an estimated street value of roughly $3.7 million.
Nuno is charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a crime that carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison.
“Stopping the flow of fentanyl into the U.S. is among our highest priorities,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This deadly drug is fueling a public health crisis that is destroying families. It’s always a good result when fentanyl is intercepted, particularly this massive amount.”
City News Service contributed to this article.