|Govt file photo|
(Wednesday, February 12, 2014)
San Diego — A Fresno woman, likely a courier, made an $80,000 mistake that will cost someone dearly, most likely the courier and her family. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers from the Otay Mesa port of entry arrested a woman after they found she was carrying the undisclosed cash. The Customs and Border Patrol allege attempted
Shortly before 1:30 p.m. on February 11, CBP officers were inspecting travelers along the 905 South heading to Mexico. The vehicle was targeted, another way of saying "profiled". It was a 2007 blue Dodge Charger. Inspection agents asked the driver to pull aside for a more complete look.
The CBP knows drugs move North and guns and money move south. They tasked a firearms and currency detector dog to take a close "sniff" of the blue Dodge. The dog alerted to the dashboard on the passenger side. When the CBP thinks they have a good prospect, it does not take them long to get through the normal screening material including dash and glove box. Soon they found bundles of U.S. cash hidden behind the glove compartment. A final count revealed $79,925 bucks!
The driver is both a Mexican citizen and U.S. permanent resident, aged 35. The officers arrested her and turned her over to Homeland Security Investigations agents. She was transported to Metropolitan Correctional Center for criminal arraignment. With that kind of cash, one would think she could post bond, but, alas, the funds were seized, along with the vehicle.
Mules are often recruited for transport of money South to Mexican and South American hands. The mules are promised a nice fee for their efforts. Few realize how much hot water they can find themselves in if their plan does not go as smoothly as they thought it would. Not only do they face criminal penalties, but their handlers generally have a no-excuses policy. The money is still owed, as far as they are concerned. They won't be picky about getting it back, if not from the female who remains helplessly housed in an American institution, then from her family.
It is a violation of federal law to fail to declare money in excess of $10,000 to a CBP agent both upon entry and exit into or from the U.S. It is also illegal to hide the money in a vehicle if the intent in hiding the money is to evade detection. While we don't know the particulars with this person, it is a foolish move to get hooked into drug dealer and other illegal services. For the little the mule makes, the risks are not worth the rewards.
All people are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This may have been an innocent attempt to repatriate a life-savings to Mexico in anticipation of retirement or to acquire a big ticket asset. However, if it was the intent of the driver to break the law, this is the kind of example that places the immigrant community in a bad light.