Mexican Authorities Seize 150 Ounces of Gold From U.S. Citizen Headed to Panama

by | Jan 25, 2011 | Precious Metals | 66 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    Mexican Federal PoliceIf part of your wealth diversification strategy includes the stockpiling of gold and silver bullion outside of the United States, be warned.

    According to Mexican newspaper El Siglo De Torreon, Thomas Martin of the United States was recently stopped by Federal Police at the Mexico International Airport while passing through airport security. A scan of his luggage revealed that Martin, who was on his way to Panama City, had stashed some 150 gold coins into his travel bag.

    Mexican police reportedly seized the coins, even after Martin produced a copy of a receipt for at least 51 of the coins. Police noted that Martin showed “obvious nervousness” when passing through the check point.

    The coins included varieties from South Africa and the United States, and have an approximate value of $201,000.

    Capital Restrictions At Border Crossings

    Most global governments have enacted legislation that restricts the transportation of cash across international borders in an attempt to prevent criminal activity, funding of terrorism, and money laundering via human mules, or couriers.

    When entering the United States, for example, anyone carrying more than $10,000 USD must declare so on their entrance customs form, even if they are a U.S. citizen, or face the possibility of seizure of all cash and equivalents. Normally, once seized, the burden of proof to show that the money was legally acquired falls on the person transporting the cash.

    When entering a European Union member state, the cash limit is €10,000, with similar repercussions to the U.S. for those who fail to declare their holdings at customs control points.

    Mexico, which has been dealing with a high rate of drug-related crime in recent years not only requires a declaration of cash or equivalents of over $10,000 USD, but also has cash transaction restrictions (up to $7,700) on consumer purchases after passage of a 2010 law aimed at curbing the ability of criminal organizations to easily exchange cash for physical goods.

    Reference Sources: El Siglo De Torreon, Translated Article, Economic Policy Journal, Steve Quayle


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      1. what about junk silver?

      2. it’s legal tender USD…

      3. Both of the shooters dressed in black are women.

      4. Government by nature is about deception, theft and murder. Why so surprised? I feel for Mr. Martin but anyone with the brains to have $200K in gold should have had better judgment than to do what he did.

      5. i wonder what will happen to mr. martin’s gold coins?

      6. @apache…they’ve already been split up and spent by la policía.

      7. He should’ve bought a sailboat…with some hidden compartments.

      8. He needed a new fabricated rudder & Hooter’s girl.

      9. Michelle, great question about junk silver. My guess is that because it is legal tender, you might be able to get away with taking more than the coin denominated value…

        The problem with junk silver is the weight during transport…. A $1000 denominated value of junk coins has 715 (troy) ounces of silver… That’s about 22,165 grams or roughly 48 pounds…. So, technically, I guess one could take $9999 worth of kennedy halves or pre-1965 quarters across a border and still stay legal, but it’s going to way almost 500 pounds…. So, you’re probably not going to be able to go through an airport, but perhaps by car or boat, as Geoff suggested?

        There are most certainly creative solutions, and I think you touched on one of them here.

        Another might be — I hate to say it because I usually don’t advocate them — numismatics… If you can get a legit deal, you might be able to purchase a highly valued numismatic coin or set…. pennies, dimes, quarters, etc… some of these coins and sets have very large price tags… So, technically, one might be able to move that across a border… the face value might be $1 while the market value runs $10,000…. Here is a price guide from PCGS for those interested…. The main thing here would be that you have a reputable buyer/dealer on the other end to purchase these from you once you get to your destination…


      10. Yeah…this guy gets an “F” on the common sense test.

        I guess we don’t know exactly why he was taking the coins to Panama City…but if you are just looking to build up a stash of physical gold, it seems like a bad idea to travel internationally to do so.

        I know I’m insane, but IF you’re really a prepper, I honestly think the best option is to hide it somewhere on your property.  Here in the Phoenix area, most people have gravel in their yards – so it would be easy to bury a box or something and mask where you dug the hole (with the gravel).  I also think hiding it in an attic or crawl space isn’t that bad of an idea – maybe not right by the opening…but back/away from the opening…maybe in low profile boxes that don’t stick up higher than the studs (just in case a burglar takes a quick peek).  A safe of some sort is another option – but if that safe is discovered, unless it cost like $10K, it won’t take THAT much time to break into (e.g., IMHO, most gun safes should really be considered only a way to prevent quick/easy access to guns/valuables – they are not IMPENETRABLE by any means).

      11. Does insurance protect against government theft?

        What an idiot carrying that much at once in a foreign country.  If you need it there, send it through Fed Ex or UPS and be there to sign for it, or have someone else ready to handle it for you when it gets to them.

        But the main lesson is to avoid the corporations, no matter where they exist.  If you want to flee to another country, do it in a disposable boat and walk on shore from the middle of nowhere.  Does anybody really need to know you are there?

      12. Notice stock butts are collapsed all the way on M-4’s along with eye liner make-up & small helmets.

      13. The one on the left has her finger in trigger well.

      14. I think Anonymous is right…

        …both of those SWAT team members or whatever in that photo are women…at least I think…

        Not a big deal if that’s the case – but it is somewhat interesting.

      15. Thomas Martin was already in Mexico. 

      16. Eagles are legal tender also.

      17. They are bait up high, nobody else wants to work with them!

      18. Mac and Michelle,

        The gold coins were also legal tender with a face value, i am sure.  So what is the difference.  The corporation wanted to steal the gold, so it did.  They would be just as eager to steal your silver.

        It is far better to think of ways to avoid the corporation in the first place instead of trying to find ways to comply with it.  When enough of us stop all efforts to comply the corp and all its evil creations will die.

      19. The one on left needs to pluck eye brows.

        • Yes, but has she douched recently?

      20. Agreed about the gold coins being legal tender…. But they are so shiny compared to an old dime or quarter or penny hidden amongst other dimes or quarters or pennies…. (of course, that might degrade the numismatic a bit… but perhaps it could be done as a last resort if one really needed to transfer wealth outside of the electronic banking system)…

        If they want to take it they will, however…

      21. silver spoons & flutes?…..

      22. Both girls are aprox. 5 foot 4 inches and petite without vest on.

      23. michelle

        anything someone deems of value will be in jeopardy if it comes in contact with the corp.

        If you avoid the corporation you will not need to worry about complying with it’s directives.  Once it comes into contact with you everything you have is subject to be taken.  It will not matter how hard you tried to comply.

      24. Mr. T would have just walked through with taking jewelry off or being wanded & felt up. 
        There is jewelry that is made as bullion.
        The one on the left is the Alfa boyfriend.

      25. Stupid is as stupid does. If you want to transfer gold around the world JM is the way to go. Coins could also be registered, insured, and shipped by a reputable transport company.

        He probably did not declare his property accurately in Mexico which is why it was confiscated, but why even take it there, let alone try to smuggle it past Customs? No wonder he was nervous.

        He is lucky he wasn’t jailed too.

      26. Mac,

        Bag of junk silver actually closer to 54lbs.  You forgot the copper mix in your calculations.

      27. When the lack of the human ability of imagination and the petty characteristic of pathological cheapness merge within an individual with an agenda and purpose, the outcome is always a well deserved disaster.

        For a couple of grand, Carnival provides an ‘unfettered’ cruise to Panama, disembarking for tours of the canal and Panama City — and dressed in your tackiest golfing attire, you can bring your camera bag containing 9 lbs. of equipment, too!

        Mexico should retain all the gold as a ‘stupid’ fine!

      28. Forget everything you’ve been told or want to believe.

        Governments, owned and operated by those who run the show, can do absolutely anything they want. We live in a global war zone. This is war. And today’s wars have no rules.

        You are on your own. He with the biggest gun, rules. You have to outthink them now. Mr. Martin set himself up. Too bad. We can learn from that. Next time you plan to go to Panama City with 150 ohzees of Au, take the path of least resistance. Those who know what I’m taking about, and have done it, know the route.

      29. Next time you go on a flight or cross the border make sure you pre purchase many ex-lax chocolate gold coins and sprinkle in your luggage to keep the TSA happy.  You can’t eat just one.

      30. Let’s hope he did outsmart them–and that the last 20 times he was successful!

      31. Comments…..oh…. Mr. Martin created his own reality!The thought of his emotional fear prevailed with a lesson well learned.

      32. The Big Boats are now checking passengers arriving on them much more carefully, and within a short while might have some sort of scanning systems in place too – thanks to DHS…  Why not find a seller of gold coins in Panama, carry a credit or debit card with lots of space on it, and then buy the coins once you are where you are going?  There are risks whenever someone finds out another person has something they want!

      33. Government is the enemy. It is increasingly.  They have the Rule Of The Outlaw on their side.

        Sic Semper Tyrannis!

      34. Sorry to say, if you deal with certain countries you better take a bribing 101 course first. Seemingly Mr. Martin did not investigate the custom’s customs first.

        It is true that countries nowadays act like robbers. I think nobody should have a right to confiscate property. It is sometimes OK to seize property temporarily until a situation is resolved. Still, nothing should be confiscated. If a judge decides money and property are illegally obtained and cannot be returned to the original legal owners then the fine should be accordingly.

      35. Comments…..With all this talk lately about possibly moving your PMs or even yourself out of the country,let us not forget that Americans are not held in the highest regards. Staying within the U.S. and coming up with a plan A,B, and C would still be better,in my opinion then trying to set up shop in a foreign country where you are the new kid on the block. When the fecal matter impacts the rotating air oscillator, we’ all rather be somewhere else, but traveling with gold or silver-stay home and come up with a better plan.

      36. Setting up shop in a foreign country is a very bad idea. If the SHTF in America, everywhere else will probably be affected anyway.

        Why trade the devil you know for the devil you don’t know? If I thought it was a good idea, I would be gone.

        Canada is the only good alternative at this point; in the northeast (quebec) and along the inside of the cordillia. I believe the Southern Rockies are the place to be.

      37. Anybody thinking of moving some of his assets offshore should look no further than opening up a Goldmoney account- you can have multiple Bank accounts linked to your Goldmoney account – ergo you can sell your gold and have the proceeds wired to the account of your choice ! 2nd choice would be a Perth Mint Certificate- you can cash it in pretty much anywhere in the world ! No need to tempt the man !

      38. To European American

        I am not sure of what you are talking about. Can you give more hints?

      39. Found these comments, some persepectives not found on this thread you might find interesting:

        Bill St. Clair said… “Get discovered by an American sheriff’s department carrying that kind of money, and they’ll steal it, too, calling it “asset forfeiture”. Nobody needs to carry that much money, unless he’s a drug dealer, or so their twisted and larcenous thinking goes.”

        Anonymous said…    “Why didn’t he buy the gold in Panama? Because to get out of the U.S., it is illegal to carry more than 10,000 frns (federal reserve notes, a.k.a. cash) without declaring it to the feds (who love to steal and kidnap as much as the Mexicans!). But U.S. gold coins have a face value of $50, so even 150 1-oz. gold eagles would have a face value of $7,500 (under the $10,000 limit).

        Otherwise, the man would have to carry 170,000 frns or so. See the problem?”

        Anonymous said… “It’s odd. You can drive around unmolested in your own private bus worth a small fortune yet if you walk around with an equal or even less than equal amount of gold in your pockets, they jail you, rob you and claim you are a suspected criminal.”

        Anonymous said… “Selling in USA and the repurchasing in Panama is a non-taxable event called a like kind exchange. Really! It’s called a 1031 exchange. Done correctly, there is no tax liability. Too bad he didn’t know it…”

        Anonymous said… “SINCE WHEN IS LEGAL MONEY “ILLEGAL” and grounds for detention and arrest? For all the smug ones posting here- this is already happening inside US at domestic airports. One guy was arrested between flights for having ‘too much currency’ on him and it was US fiat $$- only 1400. USD or so, which he had proven was in his possession legally and legitimately.

        This is being used to target people esp if they have any political dissident baggage along with their gold baggage. (and being a ‘terrorist’ can now mean nothing more than visiting web pages like this one).

        MAKE THE CONNECTION SHEEPLE. You are next.
        No one here is safe and the domestic arrests are already in force.”

      40. These two little peppers are hot.

      41. I believe Simon has covered a number of ways to obtain gold in a foreign country or have it shipped to a foreign destination.  I think one was to actually buy the gold from the US Mint and have it shipped to a trusted source overseas.  Also I’ve seen mentioned buying in Europe (Austria and Switzerland) and having them store it there for you.  I’ve seen an article covering shipping services covered – forget if it was covered here, or Without Borders or one of the Casey newsletters…  Of course governments are changing the rules all the time so shipping may be just as difficult as carrying it to certain places.

      42. Sound like he didn’t declare….  unwise.   Should have shipped the gold instaed.
        Also, if he has that kind of money, why not buy a direct flight to Panama?  Why connect in Mexico?

      43. Typical of the Mexican Government…  CORRUPT!

      44. Only one commenter got it right here… CLARK. Read his post over again. Because when these corporate fascist governments are done ripping everyone else off, they’re coming for you too!

      45. To everyone talking about buying the gold in Panama….He would have to buy it at today’s spot price. He probably bought it between $300 and $500.

      46. Comments….I started reading an article you posted regarding a man the call “the secret messiah” who has made ten financial prophesies since 1971 and has been 100 % accurate each time.I believe  he comes from Phoenix Az. I was interrupted while reading the article and could not locate it on your newsletter when I returned.Could you steer me in the right direction please ?

      47. Why couldn’t a person take 7 to 10 oz of gold on more frequent trips or would they consider that illegal too. Do you think our govt. will enact laws that will permit no gold from ever leaving this country because they are so broke??  With all this talk about PMs you should becareful and buy from a reputiable dealer. On ebay you can buy fake krugerands, but it does state copy in fine print. I got 10 of those for around 10 bucks each just in chase someone threatens your life at gunpoint.  Here you go take all I have.  What about travel to Puerto Rico since its US terrritory are you under the same scrutiny? Thanks..

      48.  Many have bought gld and silver coins for investment. The liest expensive place is Panama Cty.In the USA  $ 250 per year from the dealer.  If bought thru the IRA. So cannot be stored  at home. Must pay taxes as a IRA withdrawel.

      49. Ok, we have a problem here.
        The words Legal Tender.
        If the man had Krugs they are not leagal tender.
        So, SPOT value would be declared.If , on the other hand, the coins deemed Legal tender, at $50.00(Gold Eagles/Maples), then the legal tender value is only $7,500.00 for 150 coins.
        The article does not elaborate on whether they were seized just because they were Gold, or they exceeded Legal tender status.
        As an aside, anytime you take PM’s out of the US, CLAIM them, you will be charged $50.00 for an Amercan Eagle.
        That is legal tender value. Not SPOT.
        Being this man was an idiot(trying to take anything of that value in the most corrupt Country on the lanet), he wioll never see them again, ever.
        The only country I know, where the Gvt, Police and Military are more crooked than the criminals.

      50. Remember, without the Internet we would never hear of stuff like this

      51. peace, brother

      52. Comments….The man who nlost his gold should have left it here. for $250.per yr. his gold would be safe. Instead he decided to store it in a “starage box in Panama City. they are supposed to be cheaper than anywhere else. he took too much of a chance.
        But buying gold and silver is a must. Buy as much as you can  and more.Even in your IRA, no tax to pay until you need to use it. It will be used as a currency and more valueble than Paper money.dont hesitate. Buy GLD, GDX, PHYS, SLV,SGOL, and RJA,
        an INternational agriculture food stock. (  Water ,oil,food,Gld Silver.) See riots in Europe, and Arab countries.It will spread. Pray for GOD to forever BLESS AMERICA

      53. One wonders what would have happened if the traveler would have divided the coins with the polizia.

      54. Nadia  Do NOT buy GLD or SLV. It is paper….Clark How do you sell your coins and it is not a “tax event “. I’ve done many 1031’s with property. Coins is new to me…..I can see the guy’s thinking. He would have to sell his coins and pay a hefty tax and then use the proceeds to buy in panama…..Having a “trusted” company ship to a panama local would be a no go for me…Think of all the people that would know you had all that gold. Including the bank. Wanting to move to somewhere like Peru, I’ve thought about this a lot. The boat idea was the most practicle but still might be suspect….On a cruise ship you are required to pass customs. That’s a no go, also

      55. Jeff:

        U.S. Eagles have a special tax status with the IRS.
        IIRC, tax-free on resale.

      56. NB123    So where does the 28% tax come in on precious metals ? Gold Eagles are exempt ? How about Silver Eagles ? Tax free on resale but you have to pay tax on your profit.

      57. Hey people….just buy it in that country and store it in a depository (not a bank box).
        Amex, Visa, cash…..why risk this…buy it there.

      58. If he had a receipt showing that it was his, and it wasn’t over the limit face amount (not the “worth” they are trying to tag on it), then he should have been allowed to keep it.

      59. He could have broken it down into 25 separate insured shipments to his destination, sent on separate days to not violate the total amount on any one  day.  Study the laws and limit your activities to be within their boundaries.  If  something  has to be done, do it within the limits of the prevailing laws of the territories that you intend to cross or enter and you will be avoiding a problem not creating one.

      60. If I were that guy I would have taken it upon myself to hide out for a few extra days, purchase some guns and begin killing every corrupt piece of trash mexican police official that I came in contact with. But of course I would never step foot in that s**t hole to begin with. Fk mexico, I hope a natural disaster wipes out that entire country.

      61. 150 oz American Eagles have a face value of 50$ each. Therefore 150X50= 7500$. Can I have my property back please!?

      62. should people start declaring their cars when crossing borders?
        “Excuse me ociffer, but I wish to declare my  Mercedes”. It’s worth about 110 000$.

      63. Comments….to Marcel Daoust:
        Them mans name is Chris Weber, and his publication is “Weber’s Global Opportunities Report”.

      64. Comments…..just bury the gold in your yard in a PVC pipe.

      65. Comments…..Send your physical gold  to in the US. Ask them to convert it into gold grams. Then have them credit your Goldmoney account with the gold grams. The fee is about 1% of the top of my head. Then have your gold stored in London, Switzerland or Hongkong. I personally like Hongkong. You can open a basic Goldmoney account online in just 5 minutes. Allow 2 weeks to upgrade the account to a full account. is the web sight. They hold physical bullion not toilet paper.
        The Perth Mint certificates are also a good way, thou more expensive. But only if you have cash to start with and don,t mind the bank seeing the tranaction.
        Good luck

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