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Sept. 8, 2011

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Mexican Woman Sentenced to Prison for Attempting to Smuggle Cash Into MexIco in Teddy Bears and Pillows

McALLEN, Texas – A 33-year-old Mexican national has been sentenced to 24 months in prison for attempting 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 June 30, 2011, 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 that time, Barraza admitted that on March 1, 2011, 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 in an attempt to smuggle the currency from the United States to Mexico.

On March 1, 2011, Barraza was a passenger aboard a bus heading outbound to Mexico which was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Hidalgo, Texas, Port of Entry. 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. When CBP officers searched her possessions, they found cash hidden in teddy bears and pillows. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) continued the investigation which subsequently lead to the charges against Barraza. 

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

Barraza has been in federal custody without bond since her arrest March 1, 2011, arrest and will remain in custody pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be designated in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Sully prosecuted the case.