You probably havent’ noticed it, but there’s a common denominator in several of the touring musician drug busts that have taken place in the last few years; the town of Sierra Blanca, Texas. Sierra Blanca isn’t even really a town, it’s just a CDP of roughly 500 people in Hudspeth County, a few hours west of the the New Mexico state line and roughly an hour north of the Mexican border.
This tiny speck on the map has been responsible for the arrest of Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg/Lion, Arnie Hammer, and most recently, Fiona Apple. That’s because Sierra Blanca is home to a Department of Homeland Security checkpoint, despite being well north of the border, and is located directly on I-10. Any possibly detour around the town would add hours of driving to the trip. Via The Vulture (NY Mag):
The D.H.S. checkpoint in question is 30 miles north of the border, and anyone driving East-West — even drivers who have not actually been to Mexico — can be stopped for an involuntary inspection. Apple had a concert September 18 in Mesa, Arizona (just outside of Phoenix); her next concert was scheduled in Austin on September 20.
That said, the folks at The Vulture have come up with an alternative for stoned artists heading to the West Coast; Play more shows in New Mexico.
And so, in conclusion: If you are a touring musician with a taste for illicit substances, and you have to drive from the West Coast to Texas, do not drive down I-10 through Sierra Blanca! Schedule another concert in Albuquerque, and drive through there. (Or just throw the drugs out the window in El Paso. The choice is yours.)