U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $102,000 from a French citizen and Cameroon resident on May 8 at Washington Dulles International Airport.
A CBP officer referred the man, whose name is not being released because he was not criminally charged, to a secondary examination after the man arrived on a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The traveler submitted an inaccurate travel authorization and declared that he possessed agriculture products. Additionally, the man declared that he possessed $2,000.
The traveler then admitted that he had $2,300 before CBP officers initiated a secondary baggage examination. Officers discovered a plastic bag that contained bundles of currency that the traveler admitted to be about $100,000. Officers verified the amount to be $101,995. The currency consisted of $100,050 in U.S. dollars and 1,600 Euros, which converted to $1,945 U.S. dollars.
CBP officers seized the unreported currency and returned the equivalent of $1,995 to the man for humanitarian purposes. Officers determined that the man was not eligible for admission to the United States as a Visa Waiver Program violator and placed him on the next flight to Ethiopia.
CBP agriculture specialists examined the man’s baggage and discovered prohibited plums, eru and mangos, which they detained and destroyed.
“Customs and Border Protection officers are always on the alert for travelers who deliberately violate our nation’s currency reporting laws and carry large amounts of unreported currency to or from the United States,” said Keith Fleming, Acting Director of Field Operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office. “We have observed that bulk currency loads like this are often proceeds from illicit activities, including financial fraud and narcotics smuggling, and seizing unreported currency disrupts transnational criminal organizations.”
Although there is no limit to the amount of money that travelers may carry when crossing U.S. borders, federal law [31 U.S.C. 5316] requires that travelers report currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the United States. 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 carry-on or checked baggage.
The consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, and potential 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.
CBP seized about $386,000 every day in unreported or illicit currency along our nation’s borders last year.