McALLEN, Texas — A 36-year-old Texas resident pleaded guilty to smuggling more than $570,000 in a spare tire over the Texas-Mexico border, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
36-year-old Sergio Guadalupe Sauceda-Saenz, a legal permanent resident (LPR) residing in Edinburg, Texas, admitted to evading currency reporting by knowingly concealing more than $10,000.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Sauceda-Saenz, on April 4, 2020, attempted to leave the United States through the Hidalgo Port of Entry in his vehicle. U.S. Customs and Border officers conducting an outbound inspection and discovered $571,497 in bulk cash in the vehicle's spare tire.
Earlier today, Sauceda-Saenz acknowledged, in a plea agreement, that he knowingly concealed the money and that it was illegal to transport the currency from the United States to Mexico unreported.
As part of the plea agreement, Sauceda-Saenz agreed to forfeit his interest in the money.
"It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more to law enforcement upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements," stated the U.S. Attorney's Office.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa accepted the plea and set sentencing for Feb. 10, 2021. At sentencing, Sauceda-Saenz faces up to five years in federal prison, a possible $250,000 maximum fine, and he could also lose his status as an LPR.
Sauceda-Saenz will remain in custody pending sentencing.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted the investigation along with Customs and Border Protection. Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Blake Land is prosecuting the case.