El Paso – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents performing southbound inspections at the Stanton Street international crossing in downtown El Paso seized $530,170 late Wednesday morning. The money was concealed in a single tire.
The seizure was made shortly before noon when a 2006 Chevrolet 2500 arrived at the southbound crossing attempting to enter Mexico. CBP officers were performing outbound inspections and selected the vehicle for a thorough exam. CBP officers used a "Buster" density meter on the vehicle and received high readings consistent with concealed contraband when checking the spare tire. A CBP currency detecting dog also alerted to the tire. CBP officers opened the tire and spotted bundles of currency inside. They removed a total of $530,170 of unreported currency from the tire.
"This is an exceptionally large and significant currency seizure," said William Molaski, CBP Port Director in El Paso. "Every last dollar we stop from being smuggled out of the country makes it that much harder for criminal organizations to further their illegal pursuits."
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents arrested the driver of the vehicle on currency smuggling charges. He is identified as 40-year-old Francisco Castaneda Castillo of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He is currently detained at the El Paso County Detention Facility.
The seizure is the largest made by CBP officers in El Paso since a $802,720 outbound seizure made at the Bridge of the Americas September 11, 2009. Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. If the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP.