News and Press Releases

Mexican Woman Convicted of Attempting to Smuggle Teddy Bears and Pillows Stuffed with Cash Into Mexico

June 30, 2011

McALLEN, Texas – A 33-year-old Mexican national has been convicted of bulk cash smuggling in her attempt to smuggle more than $270,000 stuffed in teddy bears and pillows, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today.

Jeanette Barraza-Galindo, 33, of Monterrey, Mexico, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane to attempting to smuggle into Mexico $277,556 in U.S. currency concealed in two teddy bears and two pillows.

At today’s hearing, Barraza admitted that on March 1, 2011, the date of her arrest, she, intending to evade a currency reporting requirement under the law, knowingly and intentionally concealed $277,556 in cash inside two teddy bears and two pillows and attempted to smuggle the currency from the United States to Mexico.

On March 1, 2011, Barraza was a passenger aboard a bus stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Hidalgo, Texas, Port of Entry. The bus was  heading outbound toward Mexico. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers explained the currency reporting requirements to Barraza. When asked if she had more than $10,000 in cash to declare, Barraza gave a negative declaration even though she knew that she was carrying more than $10,000 in cash. However, the CBP officers searched her teddy bears and pillows and found a total of $277,556 in cash in the items. Immigration and Customs Enforcement continued the investigation which subsequently lead to the charges against Barraza. 

As part of a plea agreement announced in court today, Barraza has agreed to forfeit the $277,556 in currency to the United States.

A federal criminal complaint was filed after Barraza’s arrest and a federal grand jury in McAllen then indicted her for bulk cash smuggling. Barraza has been held with no bond since her arrest and will remain in custody pending her sentencing hearing scheduled for Sept. 8, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Randy Crane. Barraza faces up to five years in federal prison without parole and a fine of up to $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Sully is prosecuting the case.

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