EL PASO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents working at the El Paso port of entry seized $146,070 Thursday evening. The money was hidden in a shopping bag inside a vehicle that was leaving the U.S. at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing at the El Paso port of entry.
CBP officers and Border Patrol agents were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the BOTA crossing when a 2011 Dodge Durango attempted to leave the U.S. at approximately 11:15 p.m. CBP personnel selected the vehicle for an intensive examination after a preliminary interview with the driver. CBP currency detector canine “Nouska” searched the vehicle and alerted to a bag inside the vehicle. CBP officers and Border Patrol agents found three cellophane wrapped bundles inside the bag. The bundles were opened revealing the U.S. currency. CBP officers seized the currency.
CBP officers took custody of the driver, 40-year-old Jennifer Guadalupe Hernandez, a U.S. citizen residing in El Paso. She was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt and booked into the El Paso County jail where she is being held without bond.
“CBP officers and Border Patrol agents are checking southbound traffic everyday trying to stop guns, ammunition and unreported currency from being smuggled out of the country. Their diligence paid off in this enforcement action,” said Hector Mancha, U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso port director. “The unreported cash that we seize has an impact on the criminal organizations by making it more difficult for them to further their illicit activities.”
Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP. Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.
While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.