Border agents bust man for alleged currency smuggling

PRESIDIO — Border authorities last week arrested a man at the Presidio Port of Entry after agents said they found almost $200,000 in U.S. currency hidden in his vehicle.

The incident happened on Friday afternoon, when a 22-year-old U.S. citizen attempted to cross the border into Mexico. After speaking to him, agents decided to perform an “intensive examination” on his car, according to a news release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The agency did not respond by press time to a request for comment on what sparked the secondary search.

Regardless, the agents’ suspicions turned out to be correct. A currency detector dog alerted officers to the car, indicating there was cash inside it. Agents later found twelve bundles totaling over $175,000 in cash hidden in “non-factory compartments” on the driver and passenger’s sides of the vehicle.

Although travelers are allowed to cross international borders with cash, they must report the currency to border officials if it totals over $10,000. Travelers can petition the agency to get seized money back, but they must “prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate,” according to CBP.

CBP arrested the man, later handing him over to Homeland Security Investigations on charges of federal currency smuggling. At press time, authorities have not released the man’s name or provided any other information on the case.

In a statement, Hector Mancha, the director of field operations for CBP El Paso, commended the agents. By working together with Presidio police, they were able to make “significant seizures,” he said.

“Every single dollar we stop from being smuggled out of the country makes it harder for criminal organizations to further their illegal activity,” Mancha added in his statement.

The Presidio seizure is just the latest in a number of alleged currency smuggling cases on the Texas border in recent weeks. In May, a U.S. citizen was arrested in Eagle Pass after authorities found packages containing almost $300,000 in his car.

More recently, another U.S. citizen was arrested last week after he tried to cross the Brownsville Port of Entry into Mexico with almost $100,000 in undeclared cash “hidden on his person and within his bags,” CBP said. That man was also arrested.