| Border |

Border Patrol Finds Over $40,000 In Cash Hidden In Tortilla Dough

Border Patrol Finds Over $40,000 In Cash Hidden In Tortilla Dough
Customs & Border Patrol
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Get your bad "dough" puns ready.

Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol found more than $40,000 in unreported cash hidden inside a bag of tortilla dough on Thursday afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint, officers were conducting outbound checks on vehicles headed into Mexico at the San Luis port of entry when they stopped Ramiro Payan-Lopez, his wife, Maria Mariscal, and his son, Jesus Payan.

Asked if they had any weapons, ammunition, or currency over $10,000 to declare, Payan-Lopez initially said he was carrying $500. Mariscal said she had $300. Payan said he had no money on him.

The officer then waved them into secondary inspection. There, Payan-Lopez changed his story and said he was carrying $1,000.

When the CBP agents searched the car, they found a whole lot more. Mariscal had $6,686 tucked into her purse and waistband. Payan had $4,795 in his jeans pocket. Payan-Lopez was carrying $1,661 in his wallet and pockets.

And then there was $40,860 wrapped in brick-shaped packages and hidden inside raw tortilla dough in a cooler in the back of the minivan. 

All told, CBP seized $54,000 in unreported currency. Since you're required to declare cash over $10,000 when you cross the border, all three members of the Payan-Lopez family are now facing charges of conspiracy to commit bulk cash smuggling, a felony.

All three are Mexican citizens and permanent residents of the United States. According to the criminal complaint, they'd been living in Fontana, California, which is part of San Bernadino County.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.