Reynosa man sentenced on federal cash smuggling charge

A Mexican national was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison in connection with an attempt to smuggle into Mexico more than $300,000 in cash, court records show.

Luis Eduardo Romo-Luna, 43, of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, will spend more than a year in federal prison after U.S. District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa sentenced the man Friday — three months after he pleaded guilty to one count of an indictment against him, according to court records.

In exchange for his guilty plea to the first count, bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S., government prosecutors agreed to dismiss the second charge against Romo-Luna, reports on export and import of monetary instruments, which he’s accused of violating when he failed to report having more than $10,000 in cash on him, court records show.

It is illegal for travelers to fail to disclose more than $10,000 in currency when traveling internationally, whether entering or exiting the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested Romo-Luna on Sept. 28, 2017, at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge as he attempted to cross into Mexico with cash he had not declared and had stuffed into the vehicle he was driving, the criminal complaint states.

CBP agents, after sending Romo-Luna for a secondary inspection, discovered hidden in the rear quarter panels of the vehicle 17 packaged bundles of what was later confirmed to be $332,335 in cash, the complaint states.

The man did not reveal much in a subsequent interview with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents — only confirming that he had owned the vehicle for about half a year and had been in possession of the vehicle when he entered the U.S. earlier that day.

Romo-Luna will remain in custody of the U.S. Marshals pending his transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.