NILAND — Federal prosecution of two U.S. citizens is pending after they were arrested more than a month ago in connection with the alleged smuggling of about $2.6 million in narcotics while disguised as correctional officers, officials said.
The arrests occurred June 2 after the pair entered the Highway 111 checkpoint.
U.S. Border Patrol agents were alerted by a trained dog to a blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup that was occupied by what appeared to be two California Corrections and Rehabilitation officers, according to a press statement.
Border Patrol Agent Jonathan Creiglow, a spokesman for the El Centro Sector Border Patrol, explained that the arrests were not made public because the Border Patrol did not want to jeopardize the integrity of the investigation.
The Drug Enforcement Administration was in the midst of finding out more about the drug-smuggling attempt, Creiglow said.
Even though the Border Patrol opted to make the news public on Wednesday, the names of the two suspects, whose ages are 29 and 30, were not released, neither were their cities of residence made known.
Authorities also did not specify where federal prosecutors are in the pending court case against the suspects.
Wednesday’s press statement reported that when the men were directed to a secondary area of inspection that night the driver of the Silverado accelerated and sped north from the scene.
Border Patrol agents later found the abandoned truck northeast of the checkpoint on a dirt road off of Highway 111.
Agents found and arrested the driver near the deserted truck along with the passenger, who was about two miles away from where the Silverado was found.
Border Patrol authorities stressed that the pair of suspects had no ties with the CDCR.
Creiglow said there is nothing to indicate whether anyone with CDCR was involved in the drug smuggling attempt.
Eighty pounds of cocaine and 145 pounds of marijuana were uncovered, the statement read.
The uniforms the suspects wore are being checked to see whether they were counterfeit, or made to look real, Creiglow said.
Staff Writer Silvio J. Panta can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3442.