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American Arrested In Cancun Airport For Having Too Much Cash

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A tourist from the U.S. was arrested this week at the Cancun International Airport for attempting to cross the border with too much undeclared cash. According to the report from the Mexican National Guard, he was carrying approximately 1.1 million pesos (around $60,000 USD) at the time of his arrest and was not able to prove where the funds came from. 

transport vans parked outside of Cancun Airport on a sunny day.

Man Was In Transit To The U.S. From Cancun

The man in question was scheduled to depart on a flight from Cancun headed for the international airport in Atlanta, Georgia. However, while at the lounge in the international departures terminal in Cancun, some of the airport staff detected through the airport baggage scanner what appeared to be packs of tickets inside the man’s luggage. He was then taken to the airport’s Mexican National Customs Agency for questioning. 

When first brought in for questioning, the man insisted that he was only traveling with approximately $25,000 USD on him at the time. The man then consented to a staff search of his backpack and its contents when asked by the officials at the Customs Agency.

Airport Luggage Inspection

Once the full contents of his luggage were searched, airport officials found a total of around $61,000 USD, which is equivalent to about 1.1 million Mexican pesos. The amount he was carrying, undeclared through the airport, was over six times the maximum amount of cash on hand allowed for anyone transiting through the international border, whether it be by land, air, or sea.

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Mexican Standard Customs Law Is A Max Of $10,000 USD

According to the current law, any amount over a total equivalent to $10,000 U.S. dollars must be declared to the border authorities via the official forms, which are the ones given to all travelers entering the country. This rule is under article 9 of Mexico’s Customs Law. This amount is also the standard for anyone traveling through the U.S. and Canada.

Inside view of one of Cancun airports terminals

The $10,000 USD maximum is calculated whether it’s being carried in cash, in national or foreign-addressed bank checks, as well as through any other documents receivable.

Once the Cancun Airport authorities discovered the amount of undeclared cash the U.S. man was carrying with him in his luggage, the officers detained him, and he was placed in the hands of the Quintana Roo Federal Public Ministry Agency in order to continue with the investigation. There’s been no update so far on whether or not the man has been released. 

tourists and drivers at Cancun International Airport during the day.

4 Similar Cases Reported So Far This Year

This week’s incident wasn’t the first time this year that a foreigner has been taken into custody for attempting to cross the border carrying over the allotted amount of undeclared capital. So far, in 2023, there have been four similar cases of travelers attempting to cross the Mexican border to the U.S. carrying over the maximum amount of currency allowed by law if it is undeclared.

Just two weeks ago, on February 3rd, two people attempting to cross over to Tijuana from the U.S. border were taken into custody by Mexican border authorities. According to reports, they were carrying over 33 thousand U.S. dollars, which is over half a million Mexican pesos.

exterior of terminal at Cancun International Airport during the day.

And in January, there were three reported incidents. The first one was also at the Baja California/U.S. border, where a traveler attempted to cross with an undeclared amount equivalent to 80 thousand U.S. dollars (over 1.5 million Mexican pesos). 

There was also a reported case in the city of Mexicali, which is a border city in Mexico’s Baja California state about two and a half hours east of Tijuana. This incident involved two people who attempted to cross the U.S. border with approximately 43 thousand U.S. dollars. Less of a tourist hub than Tijuana, Mexicali is also a popular border crossing between California and Mexico. It’s also the second-largest city in Baja California.

The third incident so far this year was at the Puerto Escondido International Airport in Oaxaca in southern Mexico, where a traveler tried to enter with approximately $27,000 USD.

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