CBP Personnel Seize More Than $62,000 During Weekend
El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol Agents working at area El Paso, Texas ports made two outbound currency seizures Friday and Sunday for a total of $62,619. In both cases the violators failed to declare the currency during routine outbound inspections.
In addition to the currency seizures CBP officers working at El Paso area ports of entry made five narcotic seizures over the weekend.
"CBP is charged with enforcing hundreds of federal laws and currency reporting is one of the primary laws we are charged with implementing," said Ana Hinojosa, CBP director of field operations in El Paso. "Individuals who deliberately refuse to comply with currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency as these four violators learned."
The first currency seizure was made at 8 p.m. on Friday while CBP officers were conducting southbound operations at the Presidio port of entry. CBP officers selected a 2004 Dodge Durango for an intensive exam. The driver of the vehicle said he had nothing to declare during routine questioning by CBP officers. CBP officers found discrepancies on the vehicle floor. A further examination revealed five bundles of U.S. currency wrapped in aluminum tape within a false floor compartment. A total of $47,677 was found.
CBP officers at the port arrested the driver, 28-year-old Pedro Arredondo Rodriguez, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and the passenger, 38-year-old Maria Quinn, of Wauchula, Florida. Both were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents to face federal charges.
The second currency seizure was made at 6:15 p.m. on Sunday while CBP personnel were conducting operations at the Bridge of the Americas outbound inspection area. CBP officers and BP agents selected a 2000 GMC Sonoma pick-up and a 2000 Ford F-150 that were driving in tandem for inspection. Officers and Agents noticed inconsistencies in the statements of both drivers. In addition, a total of $14,942 was found on both drivers who later admitted that the total currency belonged to the driver of the 2000 GMC.
CBP officers at the port arrested 46-year-old Martin Magana and 35-year-old Vicente Villicana Nieto, both of Chaska, Minnesota and turned them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents to face federal charges. They were booked into the El Paso County Jail where they are being held without bond.
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 declare 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.
In addition to the drug seizures, CBP officers recorded 65 immigration violations at area ports for the period, including 59 intended immigrants and six imposters. Intended immigrants will use a legally issued border-crossing card (laser visa) to live or work in the U.S., which is not authorized. They also lose their documents and are generally returned to Mexico. Imposters generally will use a legitimate entry document assigned to another person and present it as their own. Violators generally lose their documents, can be prosecuted and go to jail and/or are returned to Mexico.
CBP officers working at area ports made a total of five fugitive apprehensions.
CBP officers working at ports of entry in El Paso, West Texas and New Mexico made seven seizures of agricultural items. Violators paid $1,475 in penalties in association with the violations. Prohibited food products seized included pork meat, pork skins, sweet limes, peaches and pomegranates.