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Financial Crimes

Maryland woman pleads guilty to smuggling cash to Jamaica

ICE investigation nabs leader of a smuggling ring who smuggled over $500k

BALTIMORE - Jean Brown, age 41, of Catonsville, Md., pleaded guilty on Wednesday to bulk cash smuggling after an investigation led by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations.

The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and William Winter, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Baltimore.

According to Brown's plea agreement, shortly before Dec. 25, 2008, Brown gave three other individuals a total of $562,190 in cash to conceal in their luggage before boarding a flight to Montego Bay, Jamaica. Brown provided the plane tickets, and instructed the individuals not to declare the cash in customs and to deliver the money to Brown's family who would meet them in the airport in Jamaica.

On Dec. 25, 2008, Brown drove the individuals to the Baltimore-Washington International Airport where they boarded their flight to Jamaica. Before leaving the United States from Maryland, none of the individuals declared that they were carrying more than $10,000, as required by federal law. When the flight arrived in Jamaica, the individuals presented their Jamaican Customs declaration form in which they failed to declare the money to Jamaican Customs. The form states that if a traveler is carrying more than $10,000 in U.S. currency, the traveler must declare the money prior to gaining entry into the country. Jamaican customs officers discovered the money in the individuals' luggage, divided among the individuals as follows: $148,275; $270,290; and $143,625.

Brown faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. has scheduled sentencing for February 1, 2011.; As part of her plea agreement, Brown has agreed to entry of a forfeiture judgment of $562,190.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended ICE HSI for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Stefan Casella and Peter M. Nothstein, who are prosecuting the case.