NOGALES, ARIZ.—Two Mexican nationals were arrested in separate weekend incidents for attempting to smuggle more than $1,674,000 in unreported U.S. currency into Mexico through Nogales ports.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at the Dennis DeConcini port referred Cosme Barcelo-Quijada, 56, a legal permanent resident alien residing in Yuma, for further inspection Sunday morning. During the search of Barcelo's Toyota truck, a CBP canine trained to detect currency located numerous packages of unreported funds in the dashboard and inside the roof compartment. The vehicle and cash, totaling more than $1,660,000, were processed for seizure.
Saturday afternoon, officers at the Mariposa port referred Jose Luis Verastica-Munoz, 34, of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico for further inspection of his Toyota sedan prior to his U.S. departure. After a CBP canine alerted to the presence of hidden currency, officers searched Verastica's person and vehicle and removed packages of unreported currency from his waistband and the vehicle's dashboard. The vehicle and $14,000 cash were processed for seizure.
Barcelo and Verastica were turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.
Director of Tucson Field Operations David Higgerson applauded the attention to detail displayed by CBP at the Port of Nogales. "Our officers in Nogales regularly produce results," he said. "They did a great job in this seizure of $1.6 million which appears to be the highest seizure yet for the state of Arizona."
Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
CBP's Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation's ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.
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.