A Ghana-bound man lost a hefty sum of money to a seizure at the Washington Dulles International Airport late September of this year.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized the unreported currency from the Ghanian man during an outbound enforcement operation on September 23rd in the second largest Dulles currency seizure in 13 years. The total amount of money seized was $148,000, with $2228 returned to the man as a “humanitarian release” so that he could continue his travel. CBP has not named the man at this time, as he has not been criminally charged.
The man had initially reported to officers that he only had $10,000 in his possession. When traveling into and out of the U.S., $10,000 is the maximum amount of money that can be transported without declaration. Even though it is legal to carry as much currency as desired into and out of the United States, any cash without sufficient supporting documentation greater than $10,000 is at risk of seizure.
Although the man filled out a U.S. Treasury Department financial form declaring the cash and produced a zippered bag containing the $10,000, along with $200 and 100 Ghana cedis in his wallet, CBP officers discovered $100,000 concealed inside a pair of sweatpants, as well as another $40,000 in a different pair of pants.
“We want travelers to feel comfortable carrying as much currency and other monetary instruments as they wish into and out of the United States, but we encourage travelers to honestly report all their currency to Customs and Border Protection officers during inspection,” said Elmer Jarava, CBP Acting Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “We hope that this currency seizure sends a strong message about the consequences of violating U.S. currency reporting laws.”
Although the man has not been charged with a crime, the CBP maintains that this case was simply another example of its essential role in the safety of U.S. citizens: “As the nation’s border security agency, Customs and Border Protection is charged with enforcing hundreds of laws and regulations at our nation’s international ports of entry,” said Casey Owen Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore, the agency’s operational commander in the mid-Atlantic region. “CBP plays a critical role in helping to keep our communities safe, and it’s a responsibility that we take very seriously.”
The CBP welcomes about one million international travelers into the U.S. each day, employing a variety of techniques to intercept narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, and prohibited agriculture to ensure that tourism remains safe. Last year, the CBP seized an average of $289,609 per day in undeclared or illicit currency along U.S. borders.
The September seizure at Dulles is the sixth largest currency seizure at the Virginia airport since CBP was first created in March of 2003, and the second largest currency seizure in the past 13 years.
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