POSTED: Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 12:09pm
LAREDO, TX — Octavio Orizaba, 38, a legal permanent resident from Illinois, has been ordered to prison for attempting to smuggle more than $2 million to Mexico, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. Orizaba entered a guilty plea Sept. 6, 2013.
U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana handed Orizaba a sentence of 37 months in federal prison and ordered the forfeiture of $2,147,985. In handing down the sentence, Judge Saldana noted the sentence takes into account the need to protect the public, noting “where there is money of this magnitude, there are people willing to protect it…which means danger.” Orizaba will also be required to serve a term of three years of supervised release following completion of the prison term.
On June 30, 2013, Orizaba attempted to exit the United States from Laredo with his wife and two children. At that time, he provided a negative declaration as to whether he was transporting weapons, ammunition or currency over the sum of $10,000 into Mexico. However, further inspection resulted in the discovery of 144 plastic-wrapped, vacuum-sealed bundles, which were concealed in the sofa and futon he was hauling in the bed of his pick-up truck. Specifically, 47 bundles were discovered in the sofa, while 97 were found in the futon. The hidden currency totaled $2,147,985.
At the time of the guilty plea, Orizaba acknowledged he concealed the currency and failed to report it to authorities. He further admitted he was hired by someone in the Illinois area to take the money to Guanajuato, Mexico, and expected to be paid for doing so.
Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they are required to report it to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, traveler’s checks in any form, money orders and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.
Orizaba will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The case was investigated by CBP and Homeland Security Investigations and is being prosecutes by Assistant United States Attorney Suntrease Williams.