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Marijuana smuggled inside donkey statues [UPDATED]

February 4, 2009 |  1:06 pm

Donkeys500

Donkey200 In a case that could cast suspicion on lawn ornaments everywhere, authorities say they have busted a drug ring that used donkey statues to smuggle $1.5-million worth of marijuana into the Los Angeles area.

At least 15 people have been arrested in connection with the scheme to ship 1,800 pounds of pot in 200 concrete burros discovered last month in a shipping container at the Port of Long Beach. The shipment came from Mexico and was being sent to a fictitious business in Fontana.

The marijuana was found hidden inside the hollowed-out decorative lawn statues, which stand 3 feet tall and weigh 100 pounds, said Immigration Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

The operation involved nearly a dozen federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, which tracked the donkey statues to Fontana and Sun Valley and then arrested those connected to them on Tuesday night, Kice said.

Of 15 suspects, one had an outstanding criminal warrant while the others were being held on immigration violations.

-- Andrew Blankstein

UPDATED, 10:26 p.m.: An earlier version of this post described the donkey lawn ornaments as ceramic statues. They are made of concrete.

Photo credits: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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