Man faces smuggling charge after being found with nearly 17,000 cigarettes

McALLEN — A plan to smuggle nearly 17,000 cigarettes from the U.S. into Mexico went up in smoke after a traffic stop led to the discovery of the contraband.

A Mexican man faces federal smuggling goods charges in connection with a Jan. 15 incident in which he was found with nearly 17,000 cigarettes inside a trailer, records show.

Juan Carlos Teran Arteaga made his formal initial appearance in federal court Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Juan F. Alanis related to a Jan. 15 traffic stop in Hidalgo County that led to the discovery of “foreign” cigarettes, according to the complaint filed against Teran.

On that date, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper pulled over a tractor trailer for a purported traffic violation.

The driver of the trailer, Luis Enrique Vazquez De La Cruz, gave the trooper two separate bills of lading, one in English purporting the cargo was used clothes, toys and purses, and the other bill of lading, written in Spanish, stated the cargo was cotton.

During the search, the trooper found 16,800 cigarettes within the trailer.

After this incident, U.S. Homeland Securities Investigations agents received information that Teran was involved in the smuggling of cigarettes on that date.

Teran, who attempted to enter the country through the Anzalduas port of entry on Feb. 10, was held for an interview with HSI agents.

Teran admitted to agents he had provided Vazquez with the fake bills of lading for the cargo Vazquez presented to the DPS trooper on Jan. 15.

“Teran stated that he knew the trailer contained contraband cigarettes and that what he was doing was illegal. Teran, stated that he had worked with Vazquez to smuggle the cigarettes from the United States to Mexico,” the court documents state.

He further admitted that once the nearly 17,000 cigarettes were seized, he created additional fake documents in order to legitimize the cigarettes.

The complaint makes no mention of compensation for either Teran or Vazquez for their roles in the smuggling attempt.

Teran, 37, will be required to appear for a subsequent detention hearing at a date to be determined in the future.