Mexico’s customs authority, the Servicio de Administración Tributaria (SAT), with assistance from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), seized over $2.4 million concealed within four large rolls of telephone cable at the cargo facility of Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport. The money was to be placed on a flight bound for Caracas, Venezuela.
On June 16, 2011, the Mexican authorities seized the currency for federal prosecution by the Procuraduría General de la República (PGR). U.S. and Mexican investigators continue to follow-up on all investigative leads.
The seizure is the result of joint HSI and SAT efforts under Operation Firewall, a comprehensive law enforcement operation targeting criminal organizations involved in the smuggling of large quantities of U.S. currency.
HSI is the largest investigative arm of DHS, charged with enforcing a wide array of laws, including those related to financial crime, trade fraud, narcotics smuggling, cash smuggling, and others. HSI has taken a leading role in combating bulk cash smuggling.
The HSI Office of International Affairs is a critical asset in this mission, responsible for enhancing national security by conducting and coordinating international investigations involving transnational criminal organizations and serving as HSI’s liaison to counterparts in local government and law enforcement. With agents in 69 offices in 47 countries, including Mexico City, the HSI Office of International Affairs works with their foreign counterparts to identify and combat transnational criminal organizations before they threaten the United States.
In October, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton joined senior Mexican officials to host the first-ever graduation of Mexican customs officials from a 10-week, HSI-led investigator training course at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in North Charleston, S.C. Twenty-four men and women from SAT participated in the inaugural session of the Mexican customs investigator training conducted by HSI agents.
The course included coursework in both Mexican and U.S. customs law, as well as training in a wide variety of investigative techniques, officer safety tactics, and ethics - helping to provide the graduates with the tools and knowledge necessary to combat cross-border crime, including money laundering, customs offenses and weapons and drug trafficking, in close coordination with HSI special agents and other U.S. law enforcement officials.