U.S. Border Patrol agents found bundles of cash totaling more than $1.5 million near the San Clemente checkpoint in two recent incidents, officials reported today.
In both instances, authorities arrested two foreign nationals.
The first event occurred 4:30 Friday afternoon. A Uzbekistan national but U.S. resident drove through with commercial truck hauling five used cars on a trailer, according to a press release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The 27-year-old was referred to a secondary checkpoint, where dogs alerted authorities to contraband, the release states.
“California Army National Guard members, operating an X-ray system, detected anomalies in two Acura MDXs. Agents searched those vehicles and discovered false compartments in their rear bumpers,” according to the press release.
Inside were 49 bundles of cash, containing an approximate total of $1,476,245 in U.S. currency, according to the Border Patrol. The agency seized the cash and two Acuras.
The second incident occurred Sunday afternoon outside the checkpoint. Agents were patrolling the I-5 Freeway when they stopped a 39-year-old Mexican national driver holding a valid visa, officials said.
Receiving the driver’s permission to search his vehicle, agents discovered agents $49,900 inside a black bag and inside the man’s jacket. An additional $10,000 was in the man’s pockets.
“When questioned, the man stated that the $10,000 was his, but he did not have a receipt of declaration for bringing the money into the U.S.,” according to the release. “He claimed that the other $49,900 did not belong to him and that he did not want to be associated with it.”
The driver is being held in Department of Homeland Security custody with removal proceedings pending. The vehicle and cash were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.