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13 On Your Side Exclusive: Teens Smuggling Drugs Part II

13 On Your Side Exclusive Teens...

SAN LUIS, Ariz. - Evaristo Pereda was like any other boy growing up in San Luis, Ariz. At 14, he enjoyed sports and hanging with his friends, but when faced with fitting in. He was introduced to the illegal drug smuggling trade.

"If you want to smoke you need to get money so you can get more weed. And you need to get money so you can buy more weed and you have to cross the border with some marijuana," said Pereda. 

14-year-old Evaristo thought his young age would keep him above the law.

"I was very young and I was like 14 years old and I decided yeah nothings going to happen," says Pereda.
 
What began as smuggling a little marijuana would turn into smuggling pounds of meth.
 
"I would just put it on my back. It was a little bit. First, it was for personal consumption. Then I would start to want more money, more drugs. I started doing more like two pounds or one kilo and then I want more money and then I start with meth," says Pereda.

He's not alone in the teen drug smuggling trade.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 89 minors were arrested for illegal drug smuggling in 2016. The most common drug those teens are smuggling as of 2017 was meth. Officers seized 62 pounds throughout Arizona's port of entries in 2017.

"Don't do it because of your family. Think about your family first," said Pereda.

After successfully smuggling for four years, that's a lesson Pereda learned the hard way. 

"See four months after I turned 18, I got caught with one pound of meth. I did it because I want more money to continue drinking and smoking," says Pereda.

Pereda was arrested in 2014 for smuggling meth strapped on his thighs. He tells 13 On Your Side about the day he got caught.

"I talk to my friend, my supposed friend. I told him that I needed money. So he told me you need to drive a car. I said no I just need a little money. So I just did(smuggled) one pound and I went to the border. I was very nervous because I was drinking and I was high. The customs officer noticed and he caught me," said Pereda.

His arrest made headlines across the Desert Southwest. Meanwhile, he was locked in a jail cell for two years.

"I was disappointed because of my family and I was very sad because I knew I was going to prison," said Pereda.

Now Pereda is out on three years probation. Working to get back his life one step at a time, by doing community service and continuing his education.

"I finally graduated with my GED and I'm going to continue with college. I think my family is very proud of me. I'm proud of them for their support," says Pereda.

Pereda hopes that sharing his story will help other teens think twice when getting into the teen drug smuggling trade.


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