Suspects allegedly threw bags of cocaine out of car window
(Updated at 2:09 p.m. Oct. 21)
By Eric Heinz
Two men were arrested in San Clemente on Thursday night after allegedly fleeing U.S. Border Patrol agents and throwing bags of cocaine out of a Jeep Grand Cherokee as they tried to evade officials.
Wendi Lee, spokesperson for the U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector, said at about 6:15 p.m., Border Patrol agents attempted to stop the driver of a vehicle for a drug search.
The driver did not stop, and agents pursued the vehicle on Interstate 5 into San Clemente before they were stopped and arrested near Avenida Vista Hermosa. Agents successfully stopped the SUV after the vehicle exited the freeway onto Pacific Coast Highway.
Lee said two suspects in the vehicle threw bags of cocaine out of the windows of the car—one of which struck an agent, who had to be taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
“Several bundles broke open on the freeway, revealing a white powdery substance,” Lee said.
A total of 18 bags of cocaine, two of which were still in the vehicle, were recovered from the scene. Thirteen of the bundles contained 34.45 pounds of cocaine, and five bundles contained six pounds of crystal methamphetamine, Lee said. The total estimated street value of the narcotics is $437,400.
The two suspects, ages 21 and 27, whose names have not yet been released, were turned over to the custody of the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as the narcotics. California Highway Patrol and Orange County Sheriff’s Department also responded to the scene.
The incident is still under investigation, and Lee said it could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to process the evidence and the incident. It was not released where the suspects were from, and the make and model of the vehicle was also not released.
Two northbound lanes of I-5 had to be shut down and a hazmat unit was dispatched to the area.
No other injuries were reported and no damage was done to other vehicles on the road.
“We were so glad no other incident occurred. The San Clemente checkpoint is one of the busiest checkpoints,” Lee said.
Lee said in fiscal year 2016 Border Patrol agents seized 1,230 pounds of cocaine at the San Clemente checkpoint.
Editor’s note: This is a developing story. We will provide more information when it becomes available.