Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reporting reveals a possible emerging trend in trafficking narcotics across the Southwest Border (SWB)
through the use of state-approved “medical marijuana”1 card holders. Single source reporting indicates that Mexico-based drug traffickers use individuals
with state-approved medical marijuana cards who drive decoy cars with the smell of marijuana to distract U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents, while secondary vehicles concealing large narcotic shipments pass through the port-of-entry or checkpoint unnoticed.


Although the use of decoy vehicles while traveling through SWB checkpoints is a well-known smuggling tactic, the use of medical marijuana card holders represents the possibility of a new trend in vehicle-based trafficking and presents a new challenge for personnel working along the SWB. This trend could be particularly problematic in California. Arizona, and New Mexico given current state regulations authorizing medical marijuana; Texas does not have state-approved medical marijuana.


During 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reporting identified several SWB encounters during which canine drug detection units alerted on vehicles tor the possible presence of narcotics; secondary searches of these vehicles ensued only for the individuals who claimed they were medical marijuana patients and presented state-approved medical marijuana cards. During one of these incidents, one gram of marijuana was located, seized, and the individual was released. In two other incidents, no contraband was located but the individuals advised they smoked marijuana; in both instances, the individuals were not detained and were allowed to enter the United States.

DEA Bulletin

Medical Marijuana Cards Used as Decoy Tactic, January 2015 [6 Pages, 1.7MB]

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