A Penitas man has been apprehended after US$5 million in "pure meth" was retrieved from hidden boxes welded into the rims of his car tires while crossing the U.S. border late last year.

Kevin Rangel-Sanchez, 21, pleaded guilty to drug smuggling on April 1 earlier this year. He has since been ordered by Judge Drew B. Tipton on Wednesday, Sept. 1, to serve a 90-month sentence and five years of supervised release for possessing with the intent to distribute some 150 pounds of pure meth.

On Nov. 30, 2020, as Rangel-Sanchez drove his truck into the Border Patrol (BP) checkpoint located near Falfurrias, authorities reportedly noticed that he was visibly fidgety and nervous. Due to this, the officers referred his vehicle to the secondary inspection area for an X-ray examination.

Authorities would shortly find anomalies in the vehicle’s tires during the X-ray inspection. After cutting his tires open, officers reportedly discovered steel boxes containing 24 foil-wrapped packages of meth weighing a total of 71 kilograms welded to the rims inside the tires.

The drugs busted in Rangel-Sanchez's possesion had an estimated street value of more than US$5.2 million, the United States Department of Justice reported.

Judge Tipton noted Rangel-Sanchez’s youth and lack of criminal history while handing down the sentence. He said that Rangel-Sanchez needs a significant prison sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense he committed.

In a similar but unrelated incident, a North Carolina woman has been apprehended after five kilograms of meth were reportedly retrieved from the walls of her luggage while trying to enter the United States.

Deanne Burkhart Bautista, 51, a resident of Hendersonville, North Carolina, has been accused of attempting to enter the United States at the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge in Laredo carrying 5.5 kilograms of meth in her luggage, Latin Times reported.

An X-ray examination apparently yielded anomalies in her suitcase and, on further inspection, the authorities ultimately found a total of 5.5 kilograms of meth with an estimated street value of US$27,000 embedded in her luggage.

After investigators questioned her, Bautista admitted that she was aware of the drugs in her bag and revealed that she was expecting to be paid in cash or drugs upon delivering the package to Atlanta, Georgia.

Bautista pleaded guilty on Aug. 4. She has been ordered to serve a 120-month prison sentence, followed by five years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

A Penitas man has been arrested after "pure meth" worth around US$5 million was retrieved from hidden boxes welded into the rims of his car tires. This is a representational image. Pixabay

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