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Headsnipe01 @Headsnipe011
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SAN DIEGO – Federal and state law enforcement officials have launched a billboard campaign in San Diego and Imperial counties to prevent middle and high school students from acting as drug mules for cartels.
The billboards, located in San Diego and Imperial counties as well as one in Mexico, feature stark warnings to minors that smuggling drugs could cost them their freedom and their futures and is not worth the few hundred dollars they are being offered.
They were unveiled today at two locations in San Ysidro and one in Tijuana.

Also today, a San Diego teenager pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that he recruited classmates to smuggle methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Phillip Junior Webb was a senior at Castle Park High School in Chula Vista when he committed the drug offenses.

The number of incidents in which drugs were seized from minors at ports of entry in the Southern District of California has increased significantly in recent years.
There was a 153 percent spike in drug seizures from minors from FY 2016 to FY 2017, from 39 to 99. With four months to go in FY 2018, the pace is set to match FY 2017, with a troubling new twist: Minors are smuggling ultra-deadly fentanyl, which has not happened in prior years.
“As law enforcers, and as parents, we are tremendously concerned about our youth being exploited by drug cartels,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “Juveniles need to know that consequences are real and dramatic.
Ultimately, it is your choice, and the decision you make now will follow you the rest of your life. Don’t sell your future for a few hundred dollars.”

“We live in a beautiful county which includes a world class city and one of the busiest land border crossings in the world,
the San Ysidro Point of Entry. Thousands travel by foot and car to conduct business, visit friends and family, shop, eat, and enjoy life each day. Our enemies use this same border crossing to entice our children to bring death and destruction to the United States,”
said DEA Special Agent in Charge Karen Flowers. “Parents, teachers, students - all of us need to know that drug smuggling fuels destruction of lives and the violence on both sides of the border. It is not okay. It is not sexy. It is not easy money.
It is not worth losing your life, your dreams, your potential.”

“Smuggling narcotics is a dangerous proposition especially a lethal drug such as fentanyl,” said Pete Flores, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego.
“Juveniles need to understand there that no matter what they have been told, there are consequences for smuggling narcotics, not to mention the dangers of working with transnational criminal organizations.”
“In less than a year, at least 70 juveniles were arrested at the Port of Entry trying to smuggle methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and deadly Fentanyl into San Diego County,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said.
“These are young people who are being used by dangerous, organized criminals and who do not fully understand the danger they are putting themselves in and the harm and devastation to potential drug users.”
“Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is committed to investigating, dismantling, and referring for prosecution cases in which Transnational Criminal Organizations utilize juveniles to smuggle contraband for financial gain,” said...
James Plitt, Deputy Special Agent in Charge for HSI in San Diego. “These dangerous organizations exploit young teenagers who do not fully understand the negative consequences that this will have in their lives, those of their family and future goals.
Since 2009, HSI has partnered with CBP and other law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to educate the juveniles, parents, and community members of the dangerous people that are recruiting and targeting these juveniles.
This outreach effort will remain a priority as long as these children continue to be exploited.”

DEA reports that during a one-week span in March of this year, five minors were arrested at the San Ysidro Port of Entry attempting to smuggle significant quantities of...
fentanyl into the country. Other recent incidents involved a female teen who was driving a vehicle with fentanyl and cocaine concealed within the car.
And on four different occasions, teenage boys attempted to enter through pedestrian lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry with over 2 kilograms each of fentanyl strapped to their bodies, under their clothes.
According to DEA, 2 kilograms of fentanyl equals 2 million milligrams of fentanyl, and it would only take 2 to 3 milligrams to cause respiratory depression and possible death.
Drug traffickers take advantage of the naïve nature of juveniles and lure them with incentives like money and electronics in exchange for illegally crossing drugs into the U.S.
Many of these children are recruited at the high schools they attend and some are being recruited by classmates.

Parents, teachers, caretakers, school administrators and children need to be aware that recruiting efforts of traffickers pose a constant threat.
They have been known to recruit children at schools, but also may approach them at after-school functions, camps, libraries, on public transportation, via social media outlets, and over electronic communications like gaming consoles, text messages or chat rooms.
Recruiters could be other children, parents, familiar adults or complete strangers.

In response to the trend, federal, state and local law enforcement have teamed up to educate the region’s youth about the consequences through school programs and billboards,
including two billboards in San Diego County, one on the Mexican side of the border, several in Imperial County and many more are under consideration for Arizona, Texas and New Mexico. They warn about the dangers and collateral consequences of drug smuggling.
These billboards were funded by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, a drug-prohibition enforcement program run by the United States Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Prosecutors and agents are holding educational programs in South Bay high schools so that kids are aware of the extreme dangers of handling dangerous drugs like fentanyl, of working with violent cartels, and the fallout from being arrested and charged with related crimes.
Anyone with concerns about potential recruiting is encouraged to call the local DEA office at 858-616-4100 or submit a tip to the Drug Enforcement Administration via its website,
In federal court today, Webb admitted that he arranged for juvenile couriers to smuggle a total of 6.18 kilograms of methamphetamine and 1.2 kilograms of fentanyl into the United States from Mexico, for delivery in San Diego, on four occasions:
July 12, 2017; September 19, 2017; September 27, 2017 and October 23, 2017. On each of these occasions, the juveniles had drugs strapped on their bodies as they attempted to enter the United States at the San Ysidro or Otay Mesa Ports of Entry.
He also admitted that on May 5, 2018, he knowingly drove two undocumented immigrants into the United States at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in the trunk of his car for financial gain.
Webb is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael M. Anello on October 9, 2018 at 10:15 a.m.
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