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

Customs & Border Patrol
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.

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Antonia Noori Farzan is a staff writer at New Times and an honors graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Before moving to Arizona, she worked for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach.