"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Smugglers tried to use Hurricane Dolly as a cover in at least three attempts to move drugs or illegal aliens through Texas, border officials said Wednesday.
About 9,600 pounds of marijuana was found buried under cotton seeds on a truck on U.S. 77 at the Border Patrol's Sarita checkpoint south of Kingsville, Texas, said Lloyd Easterling, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection.
Officials said the marijuana, with a street value of $8 million, may have been smuggled into the United States before the storm hit land and then moved inland Wednesday to take advantage of the bad weather.
Hurricane Dolly made landfall along the South Texas coast on Wednesday afternoon, clocking sustained winds at 100 mph winds and gusts up to 120 mph.
Dolly is expected to produce 8 to 12 inches of rain, with up to 20 inches in some spots, the National Hurricane Center said. Widespread flooding and coastal storm surges of 6 to 8 feet above normal tides are forecast.
Jayson Ahern, deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said the Sarita checkpoint incident was one of three Wednesday in which smuggling operations appeared to be attempting to operate under the cover of the storm.
In two of the incidents, people were caught smuggling illegal immigrants in South Texas, he said. One case involved six people. He did not have details on the second incident, Ahern said.
"It proves the point that oftentimes during these types of tragic circumstances, criminal organizations try to exploit what they believe is to be a weakened position of law enforcement," Ahern said
The tractor-trailer's driver, a U.S. citizen, and the contraband were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration."
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