Police find 'meth burritos' during a traffic stop in California
Drug dealers have longed turned to creative means of smuggling illegal substances - from hiding them in a newborn baby's diaper to using orange tape to disguise more than a ton of marijuana as a shipment of carrots.
So Los Angeles police officers weren't surprised Saturday when they discovered 14 foil-wrapped packages disguised to look like burritos that actually contained 17 pounds of methamphetamine.
"Narcotics dealers go to great lengths to conceal whatever narcotics it is they're trying to move from one location to another," said Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman Meghan Aguilar. "Soda cans, books cut out in the middle. Only the imagination limits how far drug dealers will go."
Officers uncovered the meth "burritos" about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 3, during a traffic stop in Angelino Heights, Aguilar said. Ricardo Renteria, 46, was pulled over for multiple traffic violations, including erratic driving. Officers searched the car after Renteria failed to provide a valid driver's license, Aguilar said.
In addition to the drugs, officers discovered a loaded handgun and a large amount of money, Aguilar said. It was not immediately clear how much money was found.
Renteria was charged with possession of narcotics and was being held in lieu of more than $1 million in bond, Aguilar said.
With Americans spending an estimated $100 billion a year on illegal drugs, traffickers' attempts to smuggle have seemingly become more inventive. Border agents in June found $5 million worth of meth concealed in two trucks at the Texas border. One carried jalapeños, the other transported cucumbers, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. In July, Texas border agents seized more than $900,000 worth of marijuana and cocaine from a commercial trailer shipping tomatoes.
Other imaginative means of transporting drugs have involved catapults launching hundred-pound packages of marijuana over the border and doughnuts sprinkled with cocaine.
Few traffickers have disguised their narcotics as burritos - although an Arizona woman in 2016 smuggled a pound of meth worth more than $3,000 inside actual burritos, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
And on Saturday, border agents arrested another Arizona woman crossing an immigration checkpoint with 10 ounces of heroin inside a blown-up condom, which was about the size of a burrito. Border agents estimate the drugs were worth about $7,800.
Should traffickers continue to model their smuggling techniques off burritos, Aguilar said, they might "hit at the heart of foodies everywhere."
"There's a great amount of attention when you try and make burritos the bad guy," she said.