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CBP Seizes in Excess of $400,000 in Undeclared Currency

Release Date: 
January 18, 2011

El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers conducting southbound operations in cooperation with the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) at the El Paso port of entry Monday morning stopped a 46-year-old man from leaving the country with $420,440. The large money bust was one of two southbound currency seizures CBP officers made over the holiday weekend at the El Paso port of entry.

CBP officers working outbound at the Bridge of the Americas seized $420,440 concealed within the seats of a 2006 Chevrolet Cheyenne on Monday, January 17, 2011.

CBP officers working outbound at the Bridge of the Americas seized $420,440 concealed within the seats of a 2006 Chevrolet Cheyenne on Monday, January 17, 2011.

The larger of the two seizures was made at about 9:30 a.m. Monday while CBP officers, U.S. Border Patrol agents, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents were conducting southbound operations at the Bridge of the Americas (BOTA). CBP officers selected a 2006 Chevrolet Cheyenne for an intensive exam. The driver of the vehicle said he had nothing to declare during routine questioning by the CBP officer.

CBP officers initiated an intensive exam during which CBP currency and firearms detector sniffing dog "Enzo" alerted to the vehicle. CBP officers noted discrepancies on the vehicle seats and found 16 bundles of U.S. currency hidden within the seats. CBP officers and Border Patrol agents spent several hours counting 15,430 individual bills which added up to $420,440.

The driver, Jose Felix Vizcarra, a Mexican citizen who resides in Ciudad Juarez, was turned over to HSI special agents after federal prosecution was accepted. He remains in the El Paso County jail without bond. The vehicle was seized by CBP officers.

CBP officers working outbound at the Bridge of the Americas seized $420,440 in undeclared currency on Monday, January 17, 2011.

CBP officers working outbound at the Bridge of the Americas seized $420,440 in undeclared currency on Monday, January 17, 2011.

CBP officers made the additional outbound currency seizure on Saturday totaling $15,079.

"The combined efforts of our Office of Field Operations officers and Border Patrol agents with HSI agents in the outbound area create a force multiplier effect that results in significant seizures," said Bill Molaski, CBP port director, El Paso. "Every single dollar we stop from being smuggled out of the country makes it harder for criminal organizations to further their illegal activity."

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.

CBP Field Operations is responsible for securing our borders at the ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers' primary mission is anti-terrorism; they screen all people, vehicles, and goods entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel into and out of the United States. Their mission also includes carrying out traditional border-related responsibilities, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration law, protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases, and enforcing trade laws.

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. law

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017