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California

Border Patrol agents seize more than $3 million from cars; two arrested

Stacks of cash topping $3 million were seized from two cars in Escondido Tuesday by the U.S. Border Patrol. Two men are alleged to have planned to take the currency to Mexico.
Stacks of cash topping $3 million were seized from two cars in Escondido on Tuesday by the U.S. Border Patrol. Two men are alleged to have planned to take the currency to Mexico.
(U.S. Border Patrol)

More than $3 million destined for Mexico was found in two cars Tuesday, the largest cash seizure ever made by U.S. Border Patrol agents in San Diego County, authorities said Friday.

Two men — one an American and the other a Mexican — were arrested on suspicion of smuggling U.S. currency in their vehicles.

“It was quite a significant seizure,” said Border Patrol spokesman Mark Endicott. Stacks of crisp $100, $20, $10 and $1 bills were confiscated.

According to Endicott, an agent followed a Kia Forte off Interstate 15 to West Country Club Lane about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday and pulled the driver over. The agent suspected the Kia was being driven in tandem with a Volkswagen Passat that sped off, Endicott said.

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Agents found $33,880 inside eight vacuum-sealed bundles in the Kia’s center console. The driver, a 53-year-old American, was arrested.

Endicott said agents fanned out looking for the Passat and found it abandoned on a residential street. The suspected driver, a 41-year-old Mexican man, was found hiding in some brush. Inside the trunk of the car were eight cardboard boxes containing $3,018,000 in cash.

The two suspects were turned over to Homeland Security.

“This amount of money represents the largest currency seizure ever in San Diego sector,” chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow said in a statement. “The hard work and perseverance demonstrated by the involved agents was essential for this outcome.”

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pauline.repard@sduniontribune.com

Repard writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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