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Ontario man sentenced on bulk cash smuggling charges

DETROIT - A 54-year-old Canadian man from Richmond Hill, Ontario, was sentenced on charges of bulk cash smuggling and making a material false statement to law enforcement agents, U. S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit, joined McQuade in the announcement. Eskender Henareh Mafarani was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment. He was convicted by a jury at the conclusion of a one-week trial before U. S. District Judge David M. Lawson.

The evidence presented at trial showed that Mafarani, with the intent to evade currency-reporting requirements, knowingly concealed more than two million dollars in U.S. currency and attempted to bring that currency across the Ambassador Bridge from Canada into the United States. At the border inspection area, X-ray images of Mafarani's truck revealed an anomaly in the cab of the tractor. A canine trained to detect the odor of controlled substances alerted positively inside of the truck. Customs and Border Protection officers removed plastic molding from inside the cab of the tractor and discovered 140 plastic-wrapped bundles of cash, totaling over $2 million dollars in U. S. currency. The jury also convicted Mafarani of making a material false statement to law enforcement officers.

The jury additionally returned a special verdict of forfeiture, finding that certain properties were involved in Mafarani's bulk cash smuggling offense. The properties forfeited to the United States include $2,095,180 in U.S. currency; $1,120 in Canadian currency and one 2003 utility commercial trailer. Mafarani asked the court to reduce the jury's findings as to the amount of the forfeiture on constitutional grounds, but in a written opinion issued June 9, 2010, Judge Lawson ruled that Mafarani must forfeit the entire amount of the seized currency, as well as the trailer. Judge Lawson held that Mafarani was unable to separate himself from the class of individuals at whom the bulk cash smuggling statute was directed - drug dealers and other criminals who move currency in bulk form to and through our borders.

McQuade commended the excellent work of ICE agents and U. S. Customs and Border Protection officers. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Martin and Rita Foley.