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Press Release

Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Attempting to Smuggle over $879,000 in U.S. Currency to Mexico

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

In San Antonio today, a federal judge sentenced 22-year-old Juan Pablo Hoyos Avila, a Mexican national residing in San Antonio, to five years in federal prison for attempting to smuggle more than $879,000 in alleged drug proceeds to Mexico, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden, San Antonio Division.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery also ordered that Hoyos Avila be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term. Judge Biery previously ordered the forfeiture of seized funds to the government.

On March 17, 2020, Hoyos Avila pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  According to court records, on July 16, 2018, Hoyos Avila and Rafael Gabriel Martinez Leal, a 22-year-old citizen of Mexico, were on a private plane at San Antonio International Airport bound for Mexico with $879,695 in undeclared U.S. Currency.  Inside the plane, authorities located the money inside a suitcase and inside cardboard packaging for an 18” box fan.  Authorities arrested Hoyos Avila and Martinez Leal.  Both defendants have remained in federal custody since their arrest. 

On May 7, 2020, Judge Biery sentenced Martinez Leal to 70 months in federal prison.  Martinez Leal pleaded guilty on August 24, 2019, to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  By pleading guilty, Martinez Leal admitted that beginning in 2017, he coordinated the movement of money throughout the U.S. to San Antonio.  On several occasions in 2018, Martinez Leal collected cash from Hoyos Avila before flying it back to Mexico using private aircraft.

“This sentence represents the seriousness of these crimes and serves as an appropriate punishment for Juan Pablo Hoyos Avila. The smuggling of bulk cash often contributes to the cartel violence that damages communities on both sides of the border.  HSI will continue to utilize its broad investigative authorities to dismantle transnational criminal organizations who blatantly ignore the laws of this nation,” stated HSI Special Agent in Charge Folden.

Agents from HSI and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection investigated this case.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adrian Rosales, Antonio Franco, Jr. and Mary Nelda Valadez prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.


The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at

Updated June 11, 2020

Drug Trafficking