EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – An El Paso woman is facing criminal charges after allegedly trying to drive a stolen SUV and drugs into the United States from Mexico.
Border officers arrested Samantha Nicole Flores on Monday morning at the Paso del Norte port of entry as she returned from Juarez, Mexico. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who checked the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the 2008 Ford Explorer with paper license plates that Flores was driving found a stolen vehicle report associated with the SUV. The officer sent Flores to a secondary inspection area.
Court records show a different CBP officer searched the car and Flores’ purse, finding several bags with a crystal-like substance. Flores initially told officers she borrowed the Explorer from a friend and didn’t know about the substance in her purse.
Homeland Security Investigations agents who later questioned Flores got a different response. Court records show the woman told HSI investigators her Chevrolet Cadillac had been recently stolen in Juarez, and that the night before her arrest she had gone to Mexico to file a police report.
Flores allegedly told agents that she and a friend met in Juarez with people claiming to have her Cadillac; they offered to sell it back to her for 50,000 pesos, or $2,770. She told them she didn’t have the money, so her friend took her to another person who offered her “work,” according to court documents.
The man allegedly took her purse and left, then came back and told her it was inside a Ford Explorer she was to drive into El Paso, documents show. Flores told investigators she asked the man if he had placed something inside her purse, and he told her, “The less you know, the better.” The bag had more than half a pound of crystal methamphetamines, documents show.
Whether or not the agents believed her, federal officials on Tuesday filed charges of importation of a controlled substance and possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute against Flores. The case resides in the court of U.S. Magistrate Judge Miguel A. Torres.