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U.S. Border Patrol seize more than $3M cash en route to Mexico

By
Sarah Mulé
U.S. Border Patrol agents in Southern California seized more than $3 million on Tuesday in the largest-ever cash seizure in the San Diego Sector. The two men accused of smuggling the money are facing federal charges. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Border Patrol agents in Southern California seized more than $3 million on Tuesday in the largest-ever cash seizure in the San Diego Sector. The two men accused of smuggling the money are facing federal charges. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection

ESCONDIDO, Calif., Aug. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. Border Patrol arrested two men near San Diego after discovering more than $3 million in two separate vehicles, representing the largest cash seizure ever in the area, the agency said.

About 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, Border Patrol agents stopped a speeding Kia Forte in Escondido in San Diego's North County. After a police dog alerted agents to search the car, eight vacuum-sealed bundles of cash were discovered in the center console, containing a total of $33,880.

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Police arrested the car's driver, a 53-year-old male U.S. citizen.

Agents suspected the Kia was being driven in tandem with a Volkswagen Passat, that took off when the Kia was pulled over. The Passat was found abandoned nearby. Agents searched the car and found $3,018,000 in eight boxes stashed in the trunk.

Authorities found the car's driver, a 41-year-old male Mexican national, hiding near the scene. Both men were surrendered to Homeland Security.

The suspects were arraigned and pleaded not guilty to federal charges of willfully concealing currency in excess of $10,000 and intent to take money out of the United States and into Mexico.

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

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