According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release – officers along with other federal partners under the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) in Puerto Rico found and seized $1.6 million in undeclared currency inside a large propane gas tank on a disabled vessel found drifting near the coast of Cabo Rojo.
The report states: “On May 23, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan requested assistance from a CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Marine Patrol Unit for a reported disabled vessel. The AMO marine unit found the vessel dead in the water 16 miles southwest of Cabo Rojo, with two men from the Dominican Republic on-board.
The vessel and its occupants were navigating to to Santo Domingo from the British Virgin Islands, when the vessel’s engine failed.
The AMO unit towed the vessel to the Mayaguez port where a CBP Field Operations Officer (CBPO) conducted an inspection.
A CBP canine alerted to the presence of a familiar odor from a large propane gas tank. Inside the tank the CBPO, AMO agent and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents discovered large sums of U.S. currency.
The undeclared currency totaled $1,638,700.”
Our firm does handle currency seizures – however, in this instance, this would be a tough case to demonstrate a legitimate source and legitimate use of the funds:
1. The cash was found hidden in a propane gas tank, not exactly a place where you normally keep money and forget to report.
2. $1.6 million is a lot of currency, the two arrested individuals would need to prove to CBP the money was legitimate.
3. In addition to showing the funds were obtained legally, the individuals also have to show a legitimate use for the funds.
4. Homeland Security Investigations got involved, HSI typically does not get involved in currency seizures unless they believe the funds are related to criminal activity.
Here are a few quick tips to avoid currency seizures:
1. The $10,000 limit applies to everyone you are traveling with – not per individual.
2. You must report any amount over $10,000 whether you are entering, transiting or leaving the US.
3. It doesn’t matter what currency you have, all currency from anywhere in the world, checks, traveler’s checks, etc. have to be reported.
4. Canine will be able to detect the currency regardless where you try to hide it.
5. If you are asked to declare how much you are carrying, answer truthfully before you sign the FinCen form.
Call David Hsu if you have any questions, 832-896-6288 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.