Border Patrol agents find $3M worth of cocaine at Falfurrias checkpoint

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Border Patrol agents monitor traffic at the checkpoint in Falfurrias, Texas, a rural ranching outpost about 75 miles north of the border on Highway 281 leading to San Antonio and Houston. (Molly Hennessy-Fiske/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A United States citizen was arrested Friday after Border Patrol agents discovered 36 bundles of cocaine hidden within his vehicle that, according to the criminal complaint, has a street value estimated to be over $3 million.

Hector Julian Sustaita was charged with knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully possessing approximately 95 pounds of cocaine with the intent to distribute.

At about 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Sustaita arrived at the Falfurrias checkpoint in a black Chevrolet Silverado when he was questioned by a Border Patrol agent.

When asked where he was heading, Sustaita said he was traveling to Houston “to work on solar panels,” but the agent noticed that Sustaita didn’t have any luggage or tools with him, which he found suspicious, the complaint said.

Sustaita gave verbal consent to an x-ray inspection and drove into the secondary inspection area where agents noticed anomalies in Sustaita’s truck.

A K-9 then alerted to the area “in-between the front driver’s side door and rear door” and “the driver’s side rear door as well as in-between the gas tank and tailgate of Sustaita’s vehicle.”

The agents then discovered 36 bundles of cocaine wrapped in gray tape and clear plastic wrap. Five bundles were found in the dashboard, five more in the rear doors and the remaining 26 inside a hidden compartment within the bed of the truck, according to the complaint.

“It should be noted that the approximate street value of the 36 bundles removed from Sustaita’s vehicle is over $3,000,000.00, which also infers the quantity of illegal narcotics would not be misplaced, mishandled or easily forgotten about by the owner of the illegal narcotics,” the complaint said.

The total weight of the cocaine was found to be nearly 95 pounds.

Sustaita appeared before U.S Magistrate Judge Mitchel Neurock Monday in Corpus Christi federal court and is scheduled to reappear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Julie K. Hampton for his preliminary examination and detention hearing Thursday morning.