Otay Mesa, Calif. - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting southbound operations at the Otay Mesa passenger port of entry Tuesday found $83,241 in undeclared currency hidden inside a stuffed animal, a loaf of bread and other places.
At about 2:30 p.m. on July 20, officers inspecting vehicles heading south into Mexico along the SR-905 freeway stopped two vehicles, a green 1999 Ford F-250 pickup and a gold 2000 Chevy Silverado, both towing trailers.
The pickup was driven by a 41-year-old male Mexican citizen, with two passengers: a 35-year-old female Mexican citizen and her minor son. The sport utility vehicle was driven by a 31-year-old male Mexican citizen, with two passengers, a 39-year-old male Mexican citizen and his minor son. The passengers in the SUV were the husband and other son of the female passenger in the pickup.
CBP officers pulled the vehicles and occupants aside for a more intensive inspection and discovered $16,271 in undeclared currency in the female passenger's handbag. Officers also found $5,200 concealed within a loaf of wheat bread, $2,370 inside a brown pouch and $19,400 concealed within a stuffed animal inside the pickup, along with an additional $40,000 hidden in the bottom of a child's brown backpack in the SUV.
During their inspection, CBP officers also determined that the husband and wife were illegal immigrants with no legal ability to enter or reside in the U.S.
CBP officers seized a total of $83,241 in undeclared currency.
"The traveling public needs to understand that declaring currency over $10,000 when crossing the border is not an option, it is a requirement of federal law," said Rosa Hernandez, port director overseeing outbound operations at Otay Mesa. "Travelers need to declare; the consequences are severe when you fail to do so.
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.