CALEXICO, CALIF.—U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a Tecate man on Friday after discovering $654,900 in unreported U.S. currency hidden in the spare tire of the vehicle he was driving.
The incident occurred at about 5:45 a.m. on August 30th, when CBP officers, together with members of the Imperial Valley Border Enforcement Security Task Force (IV-BEST), were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Calexico downtown port of entry. Officers targeted a 2011 Toyota Tacoma and referred the driver for further examination.
During an intensive inspection that included an alert from a detector dog and the usage of the port's imaging system, officers discovered 24 wrapped packages of U.S. currency concealed inside the vehicle's spare tire.
The driver, a 45-year-old Mexican citizen, was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents with the IV-BEST for further processing, and was later transported to the Imperial County Jail to await arraignment.
CBP placed an immigration hold on the driver to initiate removal from the United States at the conclusion of his criminal proceedings.
CBP officers seized the money and vehicle.
It is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.