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      McAllen man claims cartel beat him, forced him to smuggle meth

      Seized Methamphetamines // Customs and Border Protection Photo

      A McAllen man is behind bars for smuggling meth but claims members of drug cartel beat him and forced him to do it.

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers arrested 37-year-old Pedro Ceja on Monday.

      Ceja drove up from Mexico at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge.

      Customs officers sent him to secondary inspection where a K-9 officer allegedly found 17 bundles of meth hidden in his cars.

      Authorities believe the 18 pounds of methamphetamines are worth about $270,000 dollars on the streets.

      Court records released Wednesday show that Ceja is a naturalized U.S. citizen and lives in McAllen but is originally from Michoacan, Mexico.

      Ceja told investigators that he was visiting Michoacan a few months ago when he was approached by members of a drug cartel to smuggle drugs.

      The McAllen man declined the offer but said the cartel members kidnapped him, held him for two days, beat himself severely and then threatened to kill him and his family.

      Ceja allegedly told investigators that he was supposed to get paid $3,000 dollars to deliver the drugs to Dallas.

      Court records show that Ceja had numerous crossings at the Hidalgo bridge and the Falfurrias checkpoint over the past six months.

      Ceja appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Peter Ormsby in McAllen on Tuesday morning.

      Judge Ormsby denied bond for Ceja until a Friday morning hearing.