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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers intercepted over $330,000 in undeclared currency from a traveler heading to Mexico on Sunday.
Ivan Quintero-Villanueva, a United States citizen born in 1991, was taken into custody for bulk cash smuggling.
“CBP officers conduct outbound enforcement operations to protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or currency that funds transnational criminal organizations,” Port Director Carlos Rodriguez said in a news release.
On Sunday, Quintero-Villanueva attempted to enter Mexico through the Hidalgo port of entry in a white Ford Fusion and made a negative declaration for possessing money in excess of $10,000, according to the criminal complaint.
He was then sent to the secondary inspection area.
A K-9 unit conducted a search of the vehicle which resulted in an alert. An X-ray of the Fusion revealed an anomaly in the center console.
“Further inspection of the center console revealed a hidden compartment containing 23 packages of U.S. currency,” the complaint said. “The 23 packages contained a total of $331,660.00 in U.S. currency.”
During an interview with Homeland Security Investigations special agents, Quintero-Villanueva stated he knew there was hidden currency in his vehicle.
He said he was being paid $1,000 to smuggle the money into Mexico.
Quintero-Villanueva added that the vehicle was given to him in order to smuggle the money into Mexico and that he had done it four times in the past.
He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Juan F. Alanis on Tuesday for his preliminary examination and detention hearing.
Quintero-Villanueva is being held without bond.