Smuggling large piles of cash ain't easy

Cash Smuggling: Growing Problem For Mexican Gangs?

Sure, running a drug ring is the road to riches. You bring the stuff over the border, you get tons of money.

But then you have to get that money back over the border. And as banks -- including those in Mexico -- get better about finding and reporting suspicious transactions, a lot of times you just have to resort to trying to sneak tons of cash back south.

It didn't work so well for one druglord Sunday in Hidalgo. Fourteen tour-bus passengers -- half of them American, half Mexican -- were arrested when $3.1 million in cold, hard cash was found in their luggage, stuffed in deflated air mattresses.

"This seizure of $3.1 million in undeclared currency and 14 arrests, the largest currency seizure by CBP in Fiscal Year 2010, is a magnificent achievement and serves as a validation of our enhanced outbound enforcement effort, which includes not only CBP officers and agents but also ICE-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents," said Alan Bersin of Customs and Border Protection.

That must have been one nervous tour bus when the feds decided to take a close look.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office said there'd be no further info on the arrests, or how agents go about trying to catch large shipments of cash.

Operation Firewall is one way they do it. In fiscal year 2009 the feds seized almost $125 million in cash and monetary instruments.

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