Two travelers from the Dominican Republic were detained at Miami International Airport on suspicion of evading border controls by hiding more than $191,000 in cash that one of the men was carrying while attempting to board a flight to Santo Domingo in September, according to Miami federal court records.
While the two men were detained by Customs and Border Protection officers at MIA, only one suspect, Javier Enrique Santos Castillo, was indicted and now faces possible trial after his Sept. 26 arrest for not declaring the total amount of money he was trying to take out of the country, according to a criminal complaint case.
This is the second time this year that a case has emerged in Miami federal court involving large amounts of undeclared dollars. Last June, a former deportation officer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Luis de Jesús Alonzo, pleaded guilty in a case involving more than $2.4 million that Customs officers discovered concealed in the luggage of two women who accompanied Alonzo after the group arrived from the Dominican Republic.
The case involving Santos Castillo began as he walked along a boarding jetway to an American Airlines flight bound for Santo Domingo.
For some reason, a group of roaming Customs agents stopped Santos Castillo and asked him how much money he had on him.
“When asked by CBP how much money he was carrying, Santos Castillo stated that he was carrying $1,000 USD,” according to the criminal complaint filed by a special agent of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a unit of ICE.
At that moment, the complaint says, the Customs agents realized that Santos Castillo appeared nervous and that his jacket’s pockets “had bulges.”
After Santos Castillo took off his jacket and gave it to the agents who requested it, they “noticed and removed several white Bank of America money envelopes.”
When the Customs officers opened the envelopes they found $100 and $50 bills. Then Santos Castillo acknowledged that he was carrying more than the $1,000 he initially claimed, according to the criminal complaint. Ultimately, the complaint said, officers found $191,340.00 in Santos Castillo’s possessions.
He told officers that he was carrying the money as a favor for a friend in Santo Domingo, whom officers also questioned but did not charge.
The friend told Customs and Border Patrol officers that the money was proceeds from his gold and watches business. He was interviewed at MIA, where he was to see Santos Castillo off on his flight while he boarded another plane to New York, according to the criminal complaint.