Cash Taken by CBP in Hidalgo

A picture of the more than $150,000 cash taken by CBP officers in Hidalgo, Texas.

Over $150,000 in cash was taken by CBP officers in Hidalgo, Texas, recently, when a 33 year old U.S. citizen who, apparently, decided to take some spending money with him on a trip to Mexico. Or not.

Like always, this cases where cash is found hidden in a vehicle it is almost certainly bulk cash smuggling. It’s very likely that, if you’ve got $150,000 hidden in your vehicle and wrapped in plastic bundles, you’re up to no good. But not always; maybe it’s rental car, or borrowed from someone else who likes to hide cash. It’s not likely, but I have former clients who were involved in stranger scenarios.

One thing I’d like to point out, as I must always do in these stories about cash taken by CBP… bulk cash smuggling, as described here, is when money is hidden with the intent to not report it to CBP. This does not appear to be a simple failure to report! Bulk cash smuggling is far more serious in terms of consequences and in the difficulty and skill involved in attempting to get the money back. The story:

Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) working outbound operations at the Hidalgo International Bridge arrested a man from Roma, Texas after discovering $150,202 in unreported U.S. currency within the vehicle he was driving.

CBP officers working outbound operations at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge on April 11, encountered a 33-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a silver GMC Terrain SUV at  the lanes the exit into Mexico. After the primary inspection, the driver and vehicle were referred for further examination and it was there that officers discovered four packages of U.S. currency hidden within the cargo area of the SUV.

CBP OFO seized the unreported currency, the vehicle and arrested the driver who was then released to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents for further investigation.

 “Our ability to deploy officers at the outbound lanes (going into Mexico), allows CBP Field Operations to target travelers who may be attempting to circumvent reporting requirements of merchandise or currency,” said Port Director Efrain Solis Jr., Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “People who choose not to comply with export regulations may be conducting business in an illicit manner and CBP will assert its authority to safeguard against these types of violations.”

It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. 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.

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