Federal Charges Filed following Record-breaking Seizure of Fentanyl and Meth

Published 12:35 pm Saturday, November 20, 2021

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SAN DIEGO – Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman announced federal drug charges Friday against Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias of Mexico, following the seizure yesterday of 17,584 pounds of methamphetamine and 388.93 pounds of fentanyl from a commercial trailer attempting entry at the Otay Mesa, California, Commercial Port of Entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed that both drug seizures would be the largest in each drug category, for both this year and last year, in the entire United States.

The Complaint alleges that on November 18, 2021, at approximately 8:18 p.m., Quintana-Arias, a Mexican citizen, applied for entry into the U.S. as the driver and sole occupant of a 2009 Kenworth Tractor pulling a 1996 Stoug trailer.  Quintana-Arias’ manifest reflected the trailer contained automotive body parts.  However, according to the Complaint, an X-Ray machine detected anomalies inside the trailer and a drug detection dog alerted to the rear door of the trailer.

Further inspection of the trailer’s contents revealed a few automotive body parts among 6,266 packages of drugs.  Of the total drug packages, 6,106 packages contained a substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine; these packages together weighed approximately 7,976.2 kilograms (17,584.33 pounds).  The other 160 packages contained a substance that field-tested positive for fentanyl and weighed approximately176.42 kilograms (388.93 pounds).

“This is a staggering seizure that demonstrates the extent of our current fight against mass production of methamphetamine and fentanyl. But for the vigilance of our law enforcement partners, this record-breaking deluge of drugs would have caused incredible damage in our communities.” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “We commend our partner agencies for their tireless work and dedication to preventing these dangerous and deadly drugs from entering our country.”

“This record-breaking commercial seizure exemplifies the joint efforts of CBP and HSI employees, who work tirelessly each day to protect our Ports of Entry from the threats posed by drug cartels and other transnational criminal organizations,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “Countless lives will be saved because of this historic seizure of methamphetamine and fentanyl, but make no mistake: drug cartels strive to exploit our borders to further their criminal enterprises every day. The HSI Border Enforcement Security Task Force and the San Diego Imperial Valley High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force, in collaboration with CBP, remain vigilant in the mission to disrupt and dismantle every level of the cartels.”

“Customs and Border Protection is extremely fortunate to have CBP officers with phenomenal skills that enabled them to identify anomalies, leading to use of our technology to confirm and intercept the largest Methamphetamine and Fentanyl seizure nationally within the last two years” said Pete Flores, Director of Field Operations for the San Field Office.  “Our vigilance is critical to our mission and we will continue to make our homeland and communities safer by making sure these dangerous drugs are intercepted.”

Quintana-Arias was arraigned today on the complaint alleging two violations of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 952, and 960. A detention hearing is scheduled for November 23, 2021 at 2:15 p.m.

DEFENDANT                                                Case Number 21-mj-4574-AHG    

Carlos Martin Quintana-Arias                                    Residence: Mexico


Title 21, U.S.C., Sections 952 and 960

Importation of a Controlled Substance

Maximum penalty: Life in prison and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison; and $10,000,000 fine


Homeland Security Investigations

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.