2 arrested in largest local smuggled cash seizure in history

ESCONDIDO, Calif. – Border Patrol agents have arrested two men in the largest cash smuggling case in San Diego County history.

The two men were traveling in separate cars Tuesday. Agents suspected a Kia Forte and a Volkswagen Passat were driving in tandem, so they followed the cars on Interstate 15. When they stopped the Kia on West Country Club Lane after it exited the freeway in Escondido, the Passat sped off, according to the Border Patrol.

Agents searched the Kia and found eight vacuum-sealed packages containing nearly $34,000 stashed in the center console of the car. They arrested the driver, a 53-year-old U.S. citizen, on suspicion of smuggling cash.

Other agent found the abandoned Passat in a residential cul-de-sac a short distance away. They found the suspected driver, a 41-year-old Mexican citizen, hiding nearby in some brush. When they searched the Passat, they found more than $3 million in eight boxes in the trunk.

“This amount of money represents the largest currency seizure ever in San Diego Sector,” said Chief Patrol Agent Richard A. Barlow.

The two men were handed over to investigators with Homeland Security and face charges of currency smuggling.