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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

Friday, September 6, 2013

Legal Permanent Resident Admits To Attempting To Smuggle More Than $2 Million

LAREDO, Texas – Octavio Orizaba, 38, a legal permanent resident from Illinois, has entered a guilty plea to attempting to smuggle more than $2 million to Mexico, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. This was the largest unreported currency seizure that has been intercepted through Laredo thus far this year.

On June 30, 2013, Orizaba attempted to exit the United States from Laredo with his wife and two children. At that time, he provided a negative declaration as to whether he was transporting weapons, ammunition or currency over the sum of $10,000 into Mexico. However, further inspection resulted in the discovery of 144 plastic-wrapped, vacuum-sealed bundles, which were concealed in the sofa and futon he was hauling in the bed of his pick-up truck. Specifically, 47 bundles were discovered in the sofa, while 97 were found in the futon. The hidden currency totaled $2,147,985.

Today, he acknowledged he concealed the currency and failed to report it to authorities. He further admitted he was hired by someone in the Illinois area to take the money to Guanajuato, Mexico, and expected to be paid for doing so.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U. S. However, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they are required to report it to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, traveler’s checks in any form, money orders and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana will sent sentencing at a later date, at which time Orizaba is facing up to five years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. The United States is also seeking forfeiture of the currency seized.

The case was investigated by CBP and Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecutes by Assistant United States Attorney Suntrease Williams.

Updated April 30, 2015