Kristina Davis, Sandra Dibble
A Tijuana municipal judge is charged with drug smuggling after 38 pounds of cocaine were found hidden in his Jeep Liberty while crossing the border, according to a complaint filed in San Diego federal court.
Eduardo Francisco Sais Peinado was arrested Feb. 10 at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, according to the complaint and jail records.
A Tijuana city official said Sais was fired from his judicial post that same day for a work-related matter but declined to elaborate further, including if the arrest had anything to do with the dismissal.
Sais was alone in his Jeep when crossing about 6:20 p.m. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer conducting inspections approached him as he waited in the pre-primary lanes. Sais presented his border crossing card and said he was headed to Chula Vista, according to the complaint. He said he had nothing to declare and that the only people who use the Jeep are him and his girlfriend, the complaint states.
The officers used a device that tests the density of vehicle parts and got a high reading on the door panels, the complaint says. Sais again said he had nothing to declare.
Officers became more suspicious when a drug-sniffing dog alerted to a door, and an X-ray found anomalies in passenger doors, the complaint says.
An officer eventually found 11 packages of cocaine hidden in the front and rear passenger doors, as well as five packages in the rear door.
Sais has pleaded not guilty. He has agreed to remain in federal custody without bail.
Sais had been working as a municipal judge in the city since the previous administration, the official said. Municipal judges oversee cases involving violations of city law, including traffic infractions.