Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Agents are left holding the bags

Friday, June 3, 2011 |

By SUSAN CARROLL
HOUSTON CHRONICLE June 2, 2011

Two bags with $995,020 were seized from a man staying at a Galleria hotel. When confronted, he denied knowing anything about the money, leaving authorities with the bags, but no answers

A well-dressed Mexican man checked into the ritzy Westin Oaks Hotel last week, bringing along with him a large, black rolling suitcase and a gym bag packed with nearly $1 million in cash.

For at least two days, the man came and went from the Galleria-area hotel room like any tourist, shopping in Houston's mega-mall, dining in local restaurants and even taking in a movie, authorities said.

All the while, federal agents watched him, acting on a tip that the man was tied into money laundering for a drug trafficking organization. As he went to check out May 26, federal agents confronted him in the hallway outside his room. They asked him to step into another hotel room where they'd coordinated their stakeout.

The man seemed "shocked" and complied, bags in tow, said Michael Booker, an assistant special agent in charge with the federal Homeland Security Investigations in Houston. He didn't act surprised to find the money in the bags, agents said, but he did play dumb rather well.

"He immediately said, 'I don't know anything about the money. It was given to me, and I was told to deliver it,'" Booker said.

And, offering agents little to go on, he walked away from the money and the hotel room. Booker said they didn't have enough to hold the man.

"Unfortunately, it's not illegal to carry around large sums of money," Booker said. "We do have laws on the books for bulk-cash smuggling, but you have to meet certain criteria."

Booker said agents suspect the money was laundered drug proceeds that were headed back to Mexico.

He said the man, who was in the U.S. on a valid visa, said the money was to be delivered to someone in Houston, but did not provide information on the drop-off. So HSI agents were left with the luggage, packed tight with $20 and $10 bills, totaling $995,020.

The cash will end up in the National Treasury Forfeiture Fund, which is used to support crime-fighting efforts, said Gregory Palmore, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman.

Booker said HSI agents were taken aback that the man was so casual carrying a million dollars. He had no locks on the luggage, and the cleaning staff came in and out of his room every day, Booker said.

"This was a well-dressed, clean-cut individual staying at a high-end hotel," Booker said. "You never would have suspected it."

Read more: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7593154.html#ixzz1OGduxjHd

Share it:

9 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

rip the clean cut moron, wow, wonder if he could have walked away with the money or if he could go back for it. If he isnt already deader than sh*t.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how much the cops stuffed into their pockets before reporting it.!

Anonymous said...

the cops kept the other 4,980 dollars

Anonymous said...

A very close friend of ours worked at Neiman Marcus at the same mall. Her job was to be a personal shopper for uber rich Mexicans who would fly over and spend $50,000 or more. That's right $50,000!!!

She was very, very busy and had many repeat clients who spent over $100,000 per trip. These people were exceptionally self absorbed and clearly didn't give a damn about helping others.

Anonymous said...

Ofcourse those "rich mexicans" sisters, daughters,sons,brothers,of druglords or corrupt politians while they spend 50g on a day mexico rots and children die!

Anonymous said...

Well if no one wants the money I will take it, this would b a good weekend

Anonymous said...

Haha this is a funny article. The cop stuff 4,980 in their pockets might possibly be true. I would've stuffed more.

Anonymous said...

They didn't have enough evidence to hold him on??? Seriously??? Wow, nice job Feds. They obviously knew it was laundered money, otherwise they never would have spent that much time investigating and staking him out beforehand. And then ge just casually walks away....I thought we didn't have to worry about corrupt officers as much on this side of the border...but apparently with a certain amount of cash paid, you can walk away free...unflippin' believable USA.

Anonymous said...

This would make a great clip for Unsolved Mysteries... reminds me of when Amado Carillo was stopped in the titingo propane tanker(El Paso,JUarez tanker) with several thousand pounds of cocaine an herion only to fool agents an walk away with the excuse of gettin permission to open up the tanker from his boss on the other side. does anyone have this clip??? early 90's america most wanted.. The sniffer dog does a backflip the scent is so strong!!!

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;

borderlandbeat@gmail.com