Yuma Border Patrol agents over the weekend stopped four groups trying to smuggle a combined 534 pounds of methamphetamine through the desert, according to authorities.
The agents arrested 23 people in total while assigned to the Wellton, Arizona, station, according to a press release, with the combined dollar value of the drugs being nearly $1 million.
The first group was caught at around 3 p.m. Saturday when agents spotted a group hiding under a palo verde tree on the Luke Air Force Base bombing range. A 17-year-old unaccompanied child and a 48-year-old man were apprehended as they tried to flee the area. Three backpacks were located containing 120 pounds of meth, estimated to be worth $216,000.
An agent operating an all-terrain vehicle near Sentinel, Arizona, less than 24 hours from the first apprehension, encountered a group of three who were also hiding under a tree, according to the release. The three men were carrying backpacks containing 110 pounds of meth worth $198,000.
Two additional groups of nine each were encountered early Monday morning, with both being apprehended east of Wellton. One group was trying to smuggle 195 pounds of meth worth $351,000, while the other had 109 pounds of meth worth more than $196,000.
All the smugglers who were arrested over the weekend were wearing camouflage clothing to conceal themselves and blend in with the environment, according to the release, and also wore foam and carpet booties over their shoes to avoid leaving shoe prints in the dirt.