SAN ANTONIO – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the San Antonio International Airport intercepted a pair of travelers allegedly smuggling currency out of the U.S. July 15.
The travelers were carrying $879,695 packed in boxes and duct taped closed and were en route to Mexico via private aircraft when they were apprehended.
Two CBP officers arrived to San Antonio’s Fixed Base Operation to conduct an outbound inspection on a private aircraft when they noticed the aircraft was on the runway preparing for departure. The officers informed the Federal Aviation Administration tower that the aircraft had not been cleared for departure and to direct the plane to the CBP General Aviation Facility.
When the aircraft arrived, the officers began their inspection, which included asking the passengers for an oral declaration of any currency or monetary instruments they were carrying. Each passenger provided a negative oral declaration followed by a negative written declaration on CBP Form 6051B.
An inspection of the aircraft revealed taped boxes with stacks of currency concealed inside. CBP officers arrested two Mexican nationals for allegedly intending to evade the currency reporting requirements by knowingly concealing more than $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments and attempting to transport the currency from within the U.S. to a place outside of the U.S.
“Travelers are given multiple opportunities to make a truthful declaration,” said CBP Port Director Lois Hunter. “We strongly urge travelers to be completely forthright during CBP inspections or risk having their currency seized as well as face charges.”
Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States and it is not taxed at the port of entry. However, federal law requires that travelers who are carrying more than $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments must report it to a CBP officer and complete a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.
“One of the reasons CBP performs outbound inspections is to protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or currency that funds transnational criminal organizations,” said Houston’s CBP Acting Director of Field Operations Beverly Good. “This significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting requirements.”
This is among the largest single seizure of unreported currency in the Houston Field Office region which includes San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Houston. The two men were arrested and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.
On a typical day in 2017, CBP officers around the country seized $265,205 in undeclared or illicit currency.