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Financial Crimes

South Texas man pleads guilty for attempting to smuggle more than $600k

Bulk cash destined for Mexico

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A south Texas man was convicted Tuesday of bulk cash smuggling, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigation (HSI).

Domingo Quesada-Hernandez, 43, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty Jan. 8 in federal court to evading a currency-reporting requirement in his attempt to conceal $610,535 in a vehicle while trying to smuggle the money into Mexico. The $610,535 has been preliminarily forfeited to the United States.

According to court documents, Quesada-Hernandez was arrested May 21, 2012. He was driving a Ford F-150 when he approached the southbound inspection lanes at the Gateway International Port of Entry Bridge. He was referred to secondary inspection after he and his two passengers appeared nervous. During routine questioning by inspectors with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, he denied possessing weapons and/or money in excess of $10,000, and he did not complete the appropriate customs forms.

Quesada-Hernandez indicated he was the owner of the vehicle, and further claimed that he had not done any type of work on it. A cursory inspection of the vehicle revealed fresh markings on the spare tire and agents also noticed the spare tire appeared to be bigger than the tires on the vehicle. The spare tire was removed and X-rayed, which revealed anomalies inside the tire. A search of the spare tire revealed 49 duct-taped bundles containing U.S. currency totaling $610,535.

At his plea Tuesday, Quesada-Hernandez admitted he intended to evade the currency-reporting requirement, and that he concealed the currency in his vehicle's spare tire. He also admitted he intended to transport and transfer the currency from Brownsville to Mexico.

Quesada-Hernandez has been permitted to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing, which U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen has set for April 15. He faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Assistant U.S. Attorney, Angel Castro, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.