Laredo, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Laredo port of entry over a 24-hour period seized more than half a million in undeclared currency, 43 dead, skinned iguanas and more than a pound of heroin in separate enforcement actions.
The currency seizure occurred on Thursday, Nov. 18, at Lincoln-Juarez Bridge. CBP officers observed a 2000 Dodge Neon that had been turned northbound from the automated toll southbound lane and referred it for a secondary examination. CBP officers conducted an intensive examination and discovered 14 bundles containing a total of $565,950 in undeclared currency.
CBP officers seized the currency and turned the driver, a 45-year-old Mexican citizen from Bolingbrook, Ill., over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.
Also on Nov. 18, CBP officers at Lincoln-Juarez Bridge referred a northbound taxicab for a secondary examination and discovered 43 dead, skinned iguanas without the required exportation and importation permits hidden within the vehicle. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) requires an export permit from a member country (in this case, Mexico) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires an import permit as well. The driver and passenger were turned over to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents for further investigation.
Finally on Nov. 18, CBP officers at Gateway to the Americas Bridge referred two pedestrians, both female U.S. citizens from Dallas, ages 53 and 23, respectively, to secondary for further examination. During secondary examination, CBP officers discovered tubes containing heroin within a body cavity of each woman. CBP officers seized a total of slightly more than a pound of alleged heroin with an estimated street value of $100,000. CBP officers turned the pair over to ICE-HSI special agents for further investigation.
"This diverse array of enforcement actions illustrates the wide variety of laws that our frontline CBP officers uphold on behalf of over 60 other federal agencies," said Gene Garza, CBP port director, Laredo. "The flexibility and multi-faceted skill set of our officers helps CBP to keep our borders secure."
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.
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.