Officers seized more than 400 rounds of ammunition and $9,995 at the Hidalgo bridge on Wednesday.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers stopped Eli Manuel Espinoza when he attempted to leave the United States, according to the federal criminal complaint against him.
Officers asked Espinoza to declare any currency, weapons or ammunition he planned to transport across the border, according to the criminal complaint. Federal law requires people crossing the border to inform officers if they’re carrying $10,000 or more.
Espinoza “provided CBPOs with a negative declaration for currency, weapons and ammunition,” according to the criminal complaint.
Officers search Espinoza’s vehicle and found $9,995 cash — $6,620 underneath a battery cover inside the engine and $3,375 stuffed in an envelope, according to the criminal complaint.
They also found 400 rounds of ammunition.
“Espinoza claimed the U.S. currency was meant to purchase vehicles from a local auto auction company in the McAllen, Texas area, but he did not purchase the vehicles,” according to the criminal complaint. “He stated that he hid the U.S. currency in the engine compartment to conceal it from Mexican Customs officials and the cartel because they would take it from him if they knew he had it.”
Espinoza said he didn’t think transporting the ammunition to Mexico was illegal, according to the criminal complaint.
Officers contacted agents with Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Agents charged Espinoza with attempting to unlawfully export ammunition to Mexico.
Espinoza remains in federal custody and couldn’t be reached for comment.