$1.5M leads to cash smuggling charges for Starr County man

A Starr County man faces federal charges related to his arrest in a case involving nearly $1.5 million in cash, records show.

On July 2, 2019, U.S. Border Patrol agents observed an adult man, later identified as Manuel Sepulveda, driving a pickup truck in an area near the river.

Sepulveda was observed arriving at an area near the river for roughly 15 minutes, and then departed.

(Read the complaint.)

“Moments later, the Border Patrol agent observed a Hispanic male walking away from the Ford F-250 carrying a large bundle, consistent with narcotics or bulk drug proceeds, over his head, the complaint against Sepulveda states.

The agent subsequently approached the area where the man was walking, and approached the man.

“(A Hispanic male) dropped the bundle in the area of the Ford F-250 and ran south towards the Rio Grande, eventually absconding into Mexico,” the document states.

“At the same time, the Border Patrol agent observed the Ford F-250 depart the area and travel north along a farm road,” the complaint states. “Agents subsequently located four large bundles containing U.S. currency in the immediate area of where the Ford F-250 was parked and where the Hispanic male subject dropped the bundle.”

Border Patrol agents followed the pickup truck’s tracks and eventually found the vehicle parked in a farm field.

“The driver of the Ford F-250 was identified as (Sepulveda). Upon being detained by agents and prior to being mirandized by agents, Sepulveda stated, ‘They caught me red-handed. It was me. I’m not going to run,’” the document states.

After agents secured the cash bundles, they determined the amount to be $1,487,005, records show.

On Monday, Sepulveda, who has been free on a $75,000 bond since last July, pleaded guilty to one of the two charges he faces, court records show. By pleading guilty to the bulk cash smuggling, he avoids a jury trial, which was set to commence in November.

If convicted, the 43-year-old Sepulveda could face up to 10 years in prison.