On Monday morning, a Border Patrol agent pulled over a Honda Accord cruising north on Interstate 5 in San Clemente, Calif., and the agent's drug dog started giving the sign there was possibly something illicit inside the vehicle, the Los Angeles Times reports. Surprise No. 1 when agents searched the car, driven by a 25-year-old woman: 14 packages of cocaine valued at $459,000. Surprise No. 2: an 11-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl, per a US Customs and Border Protection release. Agents who descended upon the vehicle scoured the interior and found three packets of coke crammed underneath where the boy was sitting in the front passenger seat, eight packs nestled under the toddler's seat in the back, and three others inside the driver's seat.
Although it may seem shocking to pull off a dangerous smuggling attempt like this with kids in tow, Border Patrol agents tell KCAL it's not terribly uncommon, noting they've made four busts over the past three months alone in which women were lugging children on their drug junkets because they think it makes them "more inconspicuous." "It is very sad to see innocent children entangled in this shameful attempt to smuggle illicit narcotics," a Border Patrol agent says. The kids—who may be the unnamed suspect's children; the press release and media outlets refer to her as a "mom"—were turned over to San Diego County's Child Protective Services, while the driver of the car (which was taken by US Border Patrol) was arrested and sent away with a DEA task force. (Hundreds of pounds of pot were found hidden inside … coconuts.)