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Tuesday
Aug162011

Feds Find Nearly $640K Stuffed in Tortilla Presses

A CBP officer in Cincinnati removes a roll of cash concealed in a tortilla rolling machine. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)(CINCINNATI) -- A federal customs agent who sensed there was something funny about a shipment of tortilla presses bound for Colombia drilled into one of the machines and found an extra spicy filling -- nearly $640,000 in U.S. cash.

The eight tortilla machines were shipped in two batches from an address in Mexico to Bogota, Colombia via the international package carrier DHL. The shipments passed through Cincinnati on their way to South America, where U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents subjected them to x-ray analysis on August 13.

"That is the way that DHL routed the shipment," said Brian Bell, a CBP spokesman based in Chicago, "so the shippers never had any knowledge that it was going to go through the US.”

After spotting an anomaly in an x-ray, an agent drilled into the roller of a tortilla press and came back with a green and white substance. After the cap at the end of the roller was removed, agents could see tight rolls of American money wrapped in plastic.

The feds seized a total of $639,700, the largest amount ever interdicted by CBP in Cincinnati. The two shipments came from the same individual in Mexico, though Bell would not release a name.

It is legal to take up to $10,000 out of the United States without declaring the money. For any amount greater than $10,000, however, the traveler or shipper must file a report with the federal government. Bell refused to speculate as to why someone would ship nearly $640,000 in cash from Mexico to Colombia -- and try to hide it while doing so.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio