Border Patrol seizes $3M, largest San Diego currency seizure ever

ESCONDIDO — U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego seized more than $3 million in smuggled cash during a traffic stop this week off Interstate 15 in North County San Diego .

A 53-year-old U.S. citizen, was arrested during the traffic stop the agency announced Friday. A second suspected smuggler, a 41-year-old Mexican national, was found nearby after abandoning his vehicle and hiding in some nearby bushes.

Border Patrol Agent Mark Endicott, supervisor for the San Diego Sector, said the seizure was the largest in the sector’s history. “It was quite a significant seizure,” Endicott said about the sizable seizure.

The traffic stop was initiated at about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday when an agent stopped a Kia Forte after the vehicle exited I-15 onto W. Country Club Lane in Escondido.

“The agent suspected that the driver of the Kia Forte was driving in tandem with a Volkswagen Passat, which sped off as the vehicle stop was in progress,” Endicott said.

Additional agents including a Border Patrol K9 began searching the Kia. The K9 almost immediately alerted the agents of something suspicious inside the Kia. At that point agents conducted a more thorough search of the vehicle at which time they allegedly found eight vacuum-sealed bundles stashed in the center console. The bundles were filled with $33,880 in cash.

In all, Border patrol agents seized more than 3.2 million in smuggled cash. U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector courtesy photos

In all, Border patrol agents seized more than 3.2 million in smuggled cash. U.S. Border Patrol San Diego Sector courtesy photos

While agents were searching the Kia, other agents converged on the area to look for the second vehicle. Agents located the Volkswagen Passat abandoned in a cul-de-sac within the same residential area where the first vehicle stop took place.

“Soon after, the agents found the vehicle’s driver, a 41-year-old male Mexican national, hiding in some brush nearby and arrested him for suspicion of currency smuggling,” Endicott said.

Agents searched the Passat and discovered eight boxes in the trunk. The cash in the Volkswagen’s trunk totaled just over $3 million in cash, Endicott stated.

“This amount of money represents the largest currency seizure ever in San Diego Sector,” said Chief Patrol Agent Richard Barlow. “The hard work and perseverance demonstrated by the involved agents was essential for this outcome.”

The two suspects, who were not identified, were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations and are facing federal charges on suspicion of currency smuggling, Endicott said.

The U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance in corridors of egress away from our Nation’s borders to prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including the Robert Presley Detention Center, the Southwest Station in Temecula, the Hemet Station, and the Lake Elsinore Station, along with many other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, Personnel and Background Investigations and he finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 10 (soon to be 12) grandchildren.

 

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