As picked up by the Associated Press, Customs seized over $325,000 in cash after finding it hidden inside a TV and two refrigerators (i.e., in other words, if done with intent to evade the currency report requirements, smuggled) on its export from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic. What the story does say is that anybody was arrested. But that an investigation is continuing, and as explained, the government typically has 5 years to bring criminal charges for currency reporting violations/seizures.
To me, this doesn’t necessarily sound like the money was connected to unlawful activity; a toy gun, some appliances, and… well, that’s really it. There was an alert by a K-9 to the presence of narcotics in some of the currency, but that alone doesn’t prove much. The presence of drugs on currency is widely acknowledged and does not necessarily mean the owners of the currency had any involvement with the drugs themselves, other than innocently owning some dirty money.
The CBP news release contains the most details:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers stopped an illegal exportation of currency when officers searched an outbound container booked on the M/V Caribbean Fantasy Ferry destined to the Dominican Republic.
On January 27, CBP officers performed a physical inspection of all cargo inside a container destined to the Dominican Republic as part of outbound screening operations. Utilizing high tech equipment, CBP officers discovered a smuggling attempt of approximately $185,500 hidden in several items, including two refrigerators and a 32” Television set. They also found a Replica Pistol that fires blanks.
In the same container, a CBP canine alerted to the presence of narcotics on a box of personal effects and household goods. Physical inspection revealed several packages of currency wrapped in carbon paper, summing $139,980 US dollars.
In total, approximately $325,480 was seized. “This is a significant money seizure,” said San Juan Area Port Director Juan Hurtado. “The currency seized represents more than just money lost by drug trafficking organizations. These revenues are what supply the weapons and other means these organizations use for their illicit activities”.
CBP officers seized the hidden contraband and Homeland Security Investigation agents will continue the investigation. Local and federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico will continue to work together to disrupt criminal activity in the island.
If I were the owner of this container, I would contact a customs lawyer immediately. Great Lakes Customs Law handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country. If CBP seized cash from you can learn more about the process from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.