Feds arrest 2, seize more than $650,000 at Canada-Washington border

SEATTLE – Border Patrol agents arrested two men accused of trying to sneak into Washington state from Canada with more than $650,000, after the pair allegedly triggered a detection device set up near a hidden trail in Blaine.

The two Mexican nationals, Fabian Arias-Ramirez and Sergio Arroyo-Rivera, had backpacks full of U.S. and Canadian cash sealed in plastic bags when they were caught late Wednesday night, the Border Patrol said. The two were charged with bulk cash smuggling and eluding examination at entry during an initial appearance Thursday at U.S. District Court in Seattle.

The source of the money wasn't immediately clear. Lawyers for the men had not had time to investigate the charges and did not comment following the hearing.

News of the seizure came as the Seattle U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan announced that during fiscal year 2010, her office collected $16.6 million in criminal, civil and forfeiture actions. Federal prosecutors nationwide collected a record-high $6.7 billion.

Next year's total from the Western District of Washington could be even higher, because it will include nearly $10 million in cash and property forfeited to the government during the prosecution of late Seattle strip club boss Frank Colacurcio and his associates.

"We will continue to protect our community by taking the profit out of crime and ensuring the greatest recovery for victims," Durkan said in a news release.

Arias-Ramirez and Arroyo-Rivera face up to five years if convicted of cash smuggling and 6 months on the eluding examination charge.