UIW student, relative of Mexican Governor accused of smuggling money at SA airport

(SBG San Antonio photo)

SAN ANTONIO -- A University of Incarnate Word Student is one of two men arrested after allegedly trying to smuggle almost a million dollars to Mexico.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection got a tip to inspect a private plane headed from San Antonio to Monterrey, Mexico on Tuesday.

Inside, agents found close to $900,000 in cash hidden in boxes.

Juan Pablo Hoyos Avila and Rafael Gabriel Martinez Leal, both 19-years-old, were arrested.

According to the University of the Incarnate Word, Avila was an international student from Mexico studying business administration.

According to the McAllen Monitor, and other Mexican media outlets, Leal is related to the Governor of the Mexican state Tamaulipas, which is Just south of Texas.

According to the affidavit, Avila told investigators he knew he was transporting quote “something like undeclared cash or drug money.”

Leal told agents he had been smuggling cash for about nine months, flying about a million dollars a week across the border.

“This is unreported and unregulated cash,” said Aristides Jimenez, deputy chief of community readiness for the Bexar County Sheriff's Office and former special agent with Homeland Security.

Jimenez said cartels pick people with certain characteristics to help get their drug money.

"Many times, the cartels target either individuals who are students or individuals who will not call attention to themselves," said Jimenez.

If convicted both suspects could serve five years in prison.

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