EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Two women face multiple federal charges after allegedly trying to smuggle fentanyl from Mexico inside their bodies through the pedestrian lanes of El Paso’s Ysleta port of entry.
One indictment returned last week charges Angelysse Swink Gonzalez with the importation of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
Gonzalez on Aug. 5 stated at the port of entry she was returning from visiting her grandmother on her birthday in Juarez, Mexico, but had no identification on her, court records show. She showed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer a photo in her cellphone of a state identification card.
The officer noticed during the interview that Gonzalez appeared to be wearing a thick undergarment under her legging jeans. The officer sent her to a secondary inspection area where a female officer conducted a pat down and asked her to squat.
The officer reported the woman struggled to comply with her instructions, so she touched her and felt a bulge in the pelvic area. According to court records, Gonzalez voluntarily removed from her vagina a sealed condom carrying 1,000 pills that tested positive for fentanyl.
Gonzalez was later interviewed by Homeland Security Investigators to whom she allegedly told a man in Las Cruces, New Mexico, offered her “work” bringing drugs into the United States. She and her contact traveled to Juarez, where she was instructed to call an Uber. They arrived at an address where she was offered 100 fentanyl pills as payment if she could smuggle a “boat” of pills into the U.S., court records show.
A “boat,” according to the investigators, is a load of 1,000 illicit drug pills. The term was originally applied only to Ecstasy pills, according to some law enforcement agencies.
She allegedly agreed and then was offered a similar deal if she could carry a second “boat” inside her, court records show. Gonzalez turned down the deal, telling the traffickers she could not fit any more drugs inside her body because she was already in pain, according to records.
A day later, Ashley Judith Pedroza showed up at the same port of entry telling CBP officers she wanted to visit a relative in El Paso. The woman did not have a passport or other picture ID but showed border officers her Social Security card and her daughter’s American birth certificate.
A records check revealed a federal government alert for Pedroza in connection to possible currency-smuggling activity, court records show. She was sent to a secondary inspection where a female officer patted her down and allegedly felt bulges around the woman’s upper thigh.
The officer told Pedroza to remove whatever she was carrying under her shorts, but the woman allegedly told her, “I can’t.” The woman was made to lower her shorts and the officer saw three packages wrapped in electrical tape around the inner thigh, court records show. The packages contained a substance that CBP officers said tested positive for nearly a pound of methamphetamine.
Pedroza was asked if she was carrying more drugs and allegedly said, “yes.” She was asked to squat and then to surrender a sealed condom with 500 fentanyl pills from inside her body, court records show.
Pedroza allegedly told Homeland Security Investigators she purchased the drugs in Juarez and planned to hire associates to sell them in the U.S. A federal grand jury indicted her last week on two counts of importing a controlled substance and two counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute.
In fiscal year 2022, CBP officers seized more than 321 pounds of fentanyl at El Paso ports of entry. In the first 10 months of FY 2023, they’ve already seized 312 pounds.