El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the El Paso port of entry seized $130,000 on August 30. The money was discovered hidden in a vehicle that was leaving the U.S. at the Ysleta international crossing.
CBP officers and Border Patrol agents were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Ysleta crossing when a 1996 Pontiac Bonneville attempted to leave the U.S. CBP officers selected the vehicle for an intensive examination after speaking with the driver and receiving a negative declaration for currency, weapons or ammunition. A CBP currency detector canine searched the vehicle and alerted to the firewall area of the car. CBP officers and Border Patrol agents continued their exam and located eight tape-wrapped bundles in the firewall area of the vehicle. The packages were opened revealing $130,000 in U.S. currency.
"Currency seizures hit smugglers where it hurts them the most, their wallets," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection El Paso Port Director Hector Mancha. "Big currency seizures like this make it harder for criminal organizations to function by reducing their operating capital. Seized money is not replaced easily."
CBP officers took custody of the suspect, 38-year-old Luis Carlos Quezada Rodriguez of Chihuahau City, Chihuahua, Mexico. He was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations special agents and arrested on federal currency smuggling charges. He was booked into the El Paso county jail where he is being held without bond.
The CBP focus on outbound inspections has significantly increased the cost of doing business for violent criminal organizations and will continue to serve as a valuable tool in our efforts to conduct effective border operations. In March 2009, CBP increased its use of "pulse and surge" strategies for outbound operations on the southwest border. As of July 31, CBP has seized more than $40 million in cash exiting the U.S. this fiscal year.
While anti-terrorism is the primary mission of CBP, the inspection process at the ports of entry associated with this mission results in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in all categories.
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.