Smuggled Cash in Tire Seized by Customs

Not all stories about cash seized by customs have such great pictures. In September, Customs reported on the discovery of over a half-million dollars concealed in the spare tire of an automobile headed for Mexico. The cash was seized by customs. That story, and the pictures, is what follows (with my emphasis in bold):

Cash Smuggled in TireCalexico, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a Tecate man on Friday after discovering $654,900 in unreported U.S. currency hidden in the spare tire of the vehicle he was driving.

The incident occurred at about 5:45 a.m. on August 30th, when CBP officers, together with members of the Imperial Valley Border Enforcement Security Task Force (IV-BEST), were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Calexico downtown port of entry. Officers targeted a 2011 Toyota Tacoma and referred the driver for further examination.

During an intensive inspection that included an alert from a detector dog and the usage of the port’s imaging system, officers discovered 24 wrapped packages of U.S. currency concealed inside the vehicle’s spare tire.

The driver, a 45-year-old Mexican citizen, was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents with the IV-BEST for further processing, and was later transported to the Imperial County Jail to await arraignment.

CBP placed an immigration hold on the driver to initiate removal from the United States at the conclusion of his criminal proceedings.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle.

It is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 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.


This is no doubt a criminal prosecution and the person could be determined to be guilty of bulk cash smuggling and failure to report currency over $10,000, and the cash seized by customs will will be forfeited and become the property of the government. If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?