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CBP Officers Seize Currency from Palestine and Jamaica Bound Travelers

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $99,000 from a Palestine-bound U.S. family on Saturday at Philadelphia International Airport.

CBP officers conducted outbound enforcement operations on a Doha, Qatar-bound flight and encountered a man who verbally reported that he possessed $65,000. Officers provided a CBP form 503 to the traveler that explains federal currency reporting requirements, asked if he understood the law, and asked him to write down his currency amount on the form. The traveler wrote $65,000 and signed the form. Officers then provided the traveler with an U.S. Treasury Department form (FINCEN 105) and the traveler documented that he possessed $65,000.

U.S. federal law [31 U.S.C. 5316] requires travelers crossing U.S. borders to report all currency and other monetary instruments in their possession that exceeds $10,000 to a CBP officer. 

Officers initiated a baggage examination and discovered a total of $99,549 in the traveler’s pockets, in his jacket, and in two carry-on backpacks. Officers seized the currency, returned $5,000 for humanitarian purposes, and released the family.

“Customs and Border Protection wants to make clear that there is no limit to the amount of money that travelers may carry when crossing U.S. borders, we only ask that travelers be truthful with CBP officers and fully comply with federal currency reporting laws,” said Keith Fleming, Acting Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “The consequences of not reporting currency appropriately are pretty significant.”

Meanwhile, CBP officers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport continue to encounter travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting laws after officers seized a combined $82,533 from four men, all heading to Montego Bay, Jamaica recently.

On August 6, CBP officers seized a combined $59,587 from three men, ages 34, 33 and 25. The men individually reported to CBP officers that they had $7,500, $8,000, and $8,500; however, CBP officers discovered that the men had $18,522, $21,560, and $19,505, respectively.

CBP officers interviewed the first man and learned that he was traveling with the other two who officers asked to deplane the aircraft. Interestingly, CBP officers found one man’s unreported currency concealed in the seatback of his assigned seat.

Additionally, on August 4, CBP officers seized $22,946 from a 75-year-old man who told officers that he possessed $12,000.

The consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; officers seize the traveler’s currency, and travelers potentially face criminal charges. An individual may petition for the return of seized currency, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

During inspections, CBP officers ensure that travelers fully understand federal currency reporting requirements and offer travelers multiple opportunities to accurately report all currency and monetary instruments they possess before examining a traveler’s carryon or checked baggage.

CBP officers have observed that unreported currency can be proceeds from illicit activities, such as financial fraud and narcotics smuggling, and work hard to disrupt the export of these illicit revenues.

CBP seized about $386,000 every day in unreported or illicit currency at U.S. borders last year. 

Read more about currency reporting requirements at CBP

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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