United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida

02/06/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/06/2024 16:45

Tampa Woman Charged With Smuggling Over $100,000 Into The United States From Cuba

Tampa, Florida -United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the arrest and filing of a criminal complaint charging Mirtza Ocana (38, Tampa) with smuggling over $100,000 of United States currency into the United States from Cuba. If convicted on all counts, Ocana faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

According to the complaint, Ocana arrived at Tampa International Airport on an international flight from Cuba on February 5, 2024. She claimed that she did not have more than $10,000 on her person (a limit that would trigger reporting requirements), thus had nothing to declare. However, during a routine inspection of her luggage, agents from the Department of Homeland Security recovered approximately $30,000 in bulk cash concealed in three wrapped packages. Ocana then admitted that she flew from Cuba to Tampa two to three times per month to smuggle cash into the United States and that she knew that bringing bulk cash into the United States without reporting it was illegal. Agents searched Ocana and discovered an additional $70,000 in cash hidden in her clothes. Ocana's flight history later revealed that she had flown from Cuba to Tampa 45 times since May 2023.

A complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed one or more violations of federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. It will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Buchanan.