ICE - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

02/07/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/07/2024 17:23

Tampa woman charged with smuggling over $100K into US from Cuba

TAMPA, Fla. - A Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa investigation led to the arrest criminal complaint charging a Tampa woman with smuggling more than $100,000 in U.S. currency into the United States from Cuba.

If convicted on all counts, Mirtza Ocana, 38, 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 Feb. 5. She claimed that she did not have more than $10,000, which is the limit that triggers reporting requirements on her person and said she 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. She also admitted that she knew it was illegal to bring bulk cash into the United States without reporting it. 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 criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida Michael J. Buchanan.