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U.S. border agents nab disguised truck, $1.6 million in marijuana

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A truck made to resemble a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service vehicle that contained $1.6 million worth of marijuana has been seized by Border Patrol agents in Arizona near the Mexican border, authorities said on Wednesday.

    Authorities said the truck, toting a flatbed trailer, was found by agents on Monday in the southern Arizona city of Douglas with more than 3,200 pounds (1,450 kg) of marijuana concealed inside hidden compartments.

    "'Cloned' vehicles are not that unusual, we see them from time to time," said Peter Bidegain, a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman. "But the level of detail on this one was extremely good – it was literally spot on."

    Agents working in the area were alerted to suspected smuggling activity and located the truck driving in Arizona along the U.S.-Mexican border fence, Bidegain said.

    As agents approached, he said, the truck abruptly stopped and the two occupants were spotted fleeing through an opening in the fence south into Mexico. The vehicle and its contents were seized.

    Bidegain said agents have seen a variety of such disguised vehicles in recent years as smugglers continue to be creative in their attempts to ferry drugs across the border and into the United States.

    These include vehicles have been made to look like those from the Border Patrol, delivery companies and a satellite television provider.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Will Dunham)

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