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Crossing from Mexicali to the U.S. with Marijuana

Marijuana pipe

Marijuana pipe

This is the true story of two young men in their mid-twenties, who decided to cross into the border town of Calexico, from Mexicali – it happened only a couple of days ago.

We’ll just call the young men Alfonso and Roberto (Bob for short). Like a lot of the young people in Mexicali, both Alfonso and Bob speak English very well.

Alfonso wanted to cross the border to buy a pair of sneakers, and go to IN-N-OUT Burger in El Centro, only about 12 miles across the border from Mexicali.

Bob said, “Sure! That’s a great idea. We’ll take your car as it’s all gassed up and I’ll drive.”

“No problem dude!” said Alfonso.

Knowing Alfonso was big on smoking marijuana or “weed” as they like to call it, Bob said, “Make sure you don’t bring any weed crossing the border. OK?”

“Hey, you think I don’t know? Sure, no weed!” sighed Alfonso.

The two young men got into Alfonso’s car and headed out for the border crossing into Calexico in the mid-afternoon. They waited in line for an hour and a half before coming close to the Border Patrol check point. That day, the line of vehicles crossing into Calexico was long and congested.

The young men waited patiently. Alfonso seemed agitated, and from his jean’s pocket, he removed a marijuana pipe wrapped in a plastic bag.

Waiting in Mexicali to cross the border

Waiting in Mexicali to cross the border

“What are you doing?” yelled Bob, “I thought you told me you were not gonna bring weed. man? You are gonna get all of us into trouble!”

“Hey, just relax, it’s just a tiny bit of weed stuffed into my pipe, and it’s wrapped in plastic, Dude. I’m not bringing in tons of marijuana. We’re just gonna sit and wait in line. Chill Dude. It’s just the Border Patrol guys, they can’t find it” said Alfonso with a confident look.

“Here, I’m gonna put the pipe with the weed into my side pocket, deep in!” said Alfonso.

U. S. Border Patrol checkpoint

U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint

As their car crawled up to the US check point, a Border Patrol agent approached their car – he was walking with his sniffer dog, checking each vehicle.

“Oh shit! There’s the dog, we’re in trouble,” called out Bob, “See I told you not to bring weed in!”

As Bob was scolding his friend, the sniffer dog and his handler approached their car. “Light up a cigarette dude!” cried Alfonso.

“Wha? No way man, I just smoke a cigarette now? That’s too obvious!” said Bob angrily.

The sniffer dog and the Border Patrol agent passed their car and walked right by.

Bob and Alfonso heaved a sigh of relief. The dog had not smelled anything. Alfonso looked at Bob and smiled – a smile which Bob did not return.

All of a sudden, in the rear-view mirror, Bob saw the sniffer dog stop right in its tracks! The dog pulled on the leash, and started to lead the Border Patrol agent back to their car!

The two men sat frozen in their car – Bob at the wheel, and Alfonso in the passenger’s seat.

The dog stood up putting its paws right on the closed window next to Alfonso. The Border Patrol agent motioned to Alfonso to open the door.

Alfonso complied.

Immediately, the dog  jumped into the car, on top of Alfonso and put its snout right on Alfonso’s pocket – exactly where the plastic-enclosed pipe was.

Alfonso sat, not moving or blinking, terrified at what the sniffer dog could possibly do.

“Both of you get out of the car, now!” yelled the Border Patrol agent.

Alfonso and Bob got out quickly.

“Place your hands on top of the car, and spread your legs, now!” yelled the Border Patrol agent. “And don’t move!”

The sniffer dog was all excited and started sniffing the car, the back seat, the front seat excitedly. It looked happy, as the agent gave it a treat.

“You get your keys and pop the hood and the trunk and then get back into position, with you hands on the vehicle” said the agent. Three other burly Border Patrol agents arrived at the car as backup.

The other vehicles hummed silently and the people watched with anticipation.

The sniffer dog returned to Alfonso, and jumped excitedly and barked.

“Remove all the stuff from your jeans!” yelled the Border Patrol Agent to the two terrified young men.

Alfonso sheepishly dug out his pipe which was stuffed with weed and wrapped in plastic, and placed it on top of the car, with his wallet.

Now, the car was surrounded by four Border Patrol agents. The people waiting in their cars must have feared that a shoot-out was about to happen. Fortunately, Mexicali is not like other Mexican border towns.

“Here’s the weed, stuffed inside the pipe, sir!” said the Border Patrol agent to a senior officer.

“A pipe? That’s drug paraphernalia,” said the senior officer, “Put the evidence into the trunk. You two, get back into the car, get back in line, and wait your turn at the agent post.”

US Border Crossing Checkpoint

US Border Crossing Checkpoint

Both the young men got back into their car, and waited in line.  When they reached the border check point, the agent wanted to see their papers.  Both men showed their papers, which included visas to enter the U.S.

The agent checked over the documents and said, “OK, proceed to the secondary inspection area!”

At the border crossings there is a dreaded Secondary Inspection Area – where they go over suspected vehicles and people very carefully.

We know one woman who was hand-cuffed in the Secondary Inspection Area, with the handcuffs being attached to a hook on the wall. Her feet barely touched the ground. She was on an innocent shopping trip to Calexico, but her car had Tijuana plates, which may have been the problem.

Bob drove the car into a separate lane leading to the dreaded Secondary Inspection Area where both men got out of the car. They were immediately handcuffed by the US Border Patrol agents. All of their belongings were removed and placed in plastic bags, including their cell phones.

Handcuffed, both men were lead to separate holding cells, where they were locked up.

After waiting for a couple of hours, Bob was released from his cell. He asked whether he could call his family. There was no answer, but he was asked to sit down on a bench and fill out a form.

Bob was now feeling a bit better – until the agent cuffed his ankles to the bench.

“Officer, am I in trouble here – is this a misdemeanor or a felony?” asked Bob.

The agent responded, “You’re free to go; you were not caught with any drugs or drug paraphernalia. We checked you thoroughly. No needles no drugs. You’re free to go!”

Bob was relieved and exhilarated that he wasn’t going into any prison, but he worried about Alfonso.

“Officer, what about my friend? What will happen to him?” asked Bob.

The agent answered, “Who knows how long he’s gonna be locked up? He was found with marijuana and an unlawful pipe on his person.

“We have documented in the papers that, on American soil, the weed and pipe was found in the trunk of the car. Everything has been searched, just let his family know where he is, and he will be released soon. Lucky for you boys that the weed was a tiny amount.  If we had found more, the both of you would have been charged and the penalty for crossing the US border with weed would have been severe. Good Luck man! You’re free to go.” said the Border Patrol agent.

In the early morning, Alfonso was released. He collected all of his belongings and called Bob. “Hey, I’m out Dude. Can you come get me Bob? What did you tell my parents?”

“I told your mom that you had an argument with your girlfriend, I didn’t want to freak her out and get her upset. I’ll come get you now” said a relieved Bob.

Bob was lucky; no charges were filed against him. Alfonso was not so lucky. His visa to enter the U.S. was canceled, and he would have to go to US Consulate in Tijuana to get a new visa, which would probably be denied. No more IN-N-OUT Burger for Alfonso – at least not for a long time.

When Bob told us his story, Matthew said “Bob, I wouldn’t want to cross the border with you!”

“What do ya mean?” asked a baffled-looking Jim.

“Well, some of the smell of marijuana must be on Bob.” said Matthew.

“That’s crazy,” said Jim.

“Not so crazy,” said Bob, “They stopped one of my friends, brushed and brushed the carpet on his car until they came up with quite a bit of weed.”

“What happened?” asked Matthew.

“The guy is in prison, and he doesn’t even know how the weed got into the carpet of his car.”

“Ya just don’t mess with them Border guys. We’ve seen those there dogs MaryAnn, they are really good at smelling out the dope,” said Jim shaking his head.

“Well I’m glad nothing happened to you and your friend – it will be a learning experience for you guys,” I said.

Bob got up to leave, shook hands with Jim and gave me a hug. He turned to shake hands with Matthew.

“No way,” said Matthew backing away, “God knows what you have on your hands.”

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