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Contraband
06/27/2011

2 men who smuggled $650,000 cash from Canada into the US sentenced to prison

SEATTLE - Two men, who tripped a sensor on the U.S.-Canada border and were later found to be carrying more than $650,000 in U.S. and Canadian currency, were sentenced in federal court Friday following their bulk-cash smuggling guilty pleas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Fabian Arias-Ramirez, 39, of Fresno, Calif., received a 20-month prison sentence; and Sergio Arroyo-Rivera, 22, also of Fresno, received one year in prison. Both men were in the United States illegally and will be deported to Mexico upon their release from custody.

Arias-Ramirez and Arroyo-Rivera were arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Border Patrol agents on Dec. 15, 2010, after entering the United States from Canada on a forest trail seven miles east of Blaine, Wash. They pleaded guilty to the bulk-cash smuggling charges in March.

According to court documents, the two men wore camouflage clothing and backpacks when the Border Patrol agents encountered them. They also carried a special blue light flashlight that could not be seen from a distance.

Each backpack contained several shrink-wrapped bags of money that totaled $296,185 in U.S. currency and $360,760 in Canadian currency. The money, which weighed 30 pounds, is believed to be the proceeds from illegal narcotics smuggling.

"This case demonstrates the important role technology plays in detecting border crimes, and HSI's commitment to investigating those who fail to respect our nation's laws," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Seattle.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Jones handed down the prison sentences. The recovered currency was forfeited to the U.S. government.