CBP Seizes Smuggled $390k at San Juan

$100 bills wrapped in aluminum foil smuggled in a drum of paint seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized almost $400,000 USD that was part of a bulk cash smuggling incident in the middle of March at the Port of San Juan, in Puerto Rico.

The story is interesting because of its novelty. The amazing ability of CBP officers do detect when things are “off” is also on display in this story. Basically, a cargo ship was leaving Puerto Rico with two vehicles within it (and presumably, much more other cargo).

The vehicles were inspected, and inside was found 2 “excessively heavy” 55 gallon barrels of liquid paint. Inside the barrels were 72 packages of currency totaling $384,840 dollars.

In a second, apparently related, incident, CBP seized $10,000 that was vacuum packed into an ice tea container, all hidden within a cardboard barrel. Here’s the full story:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized over $390K concealed inside two vehicles in separate incidents last week in the Port of San Juan.    

On Mar. 11, during the boarding process at the ferry M/V Maestro Universe, bound to the City of Santo Domingo, CBP officers inspected two (2) excessively heavy 55 gallon barrels of liquid paint, finding seventy-two (72) packages of unreported currency inside.   The currency amounted to $384,840.

In another cardboard barrel, Officers found a vacuumed pack bag from a Lipton Ice Tea container with $10,000 in 100-dollar bills.

“Travelers can carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP,” indicated Edwin Cruz, San Juan Area Port Director.   “Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.”

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assumed custody of the seized currency for further investigation. 

The story ends unusually, but not uncommonly, be explaining the travelers can transport more than $10,000 so long as they report the money. However, that warning doesn’t seem to be a factor here — because it was a cargo ship, no one was traveling with the money such that they could have reported in that manner.