The women were scheduled to fly to Lebanon out of Detroit Metro Airport, Homeland Security Investigations officer Todd Scheffler wrote in a criminal complaint filed in Federal Court in Detroit Tuesday. The mother allegedly told officers the more than two-month long trip was to visit family.
U.S. Border Protection agents detained the two women on the American side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to verify the amount of cash they were carrying into the U.S.
U.S. laws states that anyone entering the country must disclose cash amounts greater than $10,000.
After a 51-year-old woman told the first border agent she spoke with that she was carrying $3,300 Cdn, border officials referred the vehicle and its four occupants, including her 16-year-old daughter and two men, for a secondary inspection. The secondary inspection included a search of the car, its occupants and their belongings.
Officers searched the woman’s purse and other items and allegedly found approximately $15,000 Cdn and $300 US, according to the complaint.
Officers discovered money in the woman's bra during a pat down, Scheffler noted in the complaint, writing that "a bulky mass was discovered on the bra."
The woman allegedly told border officers she had sewn money into her bra. Officials said four bags were sewn into the bra's lining — three bags contained $10,000 Cdn and a fourth had $9,000 Cdn inside.
When officers patted down the woman's daughter, they allegedly found $20,000 Cdn split between two bags sewn into her bra.
The mother allegedly told border officials she hid the money to keep it from being stolen, court documents show. She also said she didn't want her boyfriend, who was driving the vehicle she and her daughter were travelling in, to know about the money, the report said.
According to court documents, the woman allegedly said the money came from disability cheques and a paper route, while her daughter earned some of the money babysitting.
Officials did not find anything on the male driver and male passenger. The two men claimed to know nothing about the money, Scheffler wrote.
The 51-year-old has been charged with bulk cash smuggling and making false statements to a federal agent. Her daughter was not charged.