Photo: Police near the border examining a car with a trunk full of marijuana
A school teacher is sitting in a Juarez jail after a search of her car at the U.S.-Mexico border uncovered 100 pounds of marijuana in her trunk. However, both her and the FBI, claim she is not working with drug traffickers and is simply the victim of an increasingly common practice of using unsuspecting drivers’ as drug traffickers.
Ana Isela Martinez Amaya, is a 35-year-old private school teacher from the La Fe Preparatory School in El Paso, Texas. Each day, like clockwork, she travels north across the border to teach her 4th grade students. This routine was noticed by drug traffickers, and because of it, she has been sitting in jail since May 26 on drug charges.
“I’m not a drug dealer. I have been an honest person all my life. I just want authorities to know it’s absolutely unfair to have me here because I’m not guilty,” Martinez told KVIA an ABC affiliate in El Paso.
Traffickers have been using cross-border commuters to smuggling drugs into the U.S. and the FBI says Martinez is one of those commuters. According to the affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Daniel, Martinez and Dr. Justus Lawrence Opot and co-worker Marisol Perez were unsuspecting victims of a drug trafficking scheme.
The affidavit states smugglers select their targets by placing lookouts at the port of entry. These lookouts identify vehicles that use the SENTRI express lane daily. (SENTRI stands for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection.) One the vehicles were selected, the smugglers obtain the vehicles’ identification numbers. Using that number, they have spare keys made. At night, when the cars are unoccupied the keys are used to open the trunk and place drugs inside. The next time the car owner gets in, they have no idea they are about to become accidental drug traffickers.
Since the affidavit was shared with Mexican authorities, Opot and Perez have been released, but Martinez remains in jail. Her husband however, says they will use the FBI information to try to gain her freedom.
In a conversation recorded by the FBI and documented in the affidavit, smugglers Jesus Chavez and Carlos Gomez admit that targeted Martinez.
“We have seen that girl (Martinez Amaya) for about a year because she’s like a clock, boss,” Gomez stated in a recorded call. “At 5:00—she was there. Boom-boom-boom! Always.”
“It has given us motivation,” Martinez’s husband, Isaac Cuanalo, says of the FBI information. “It corroborates that Ana is innocent and that Ana is a victim that she did not know of the suitcases. We are thanking God.”