FAJARDO, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents, along with agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), seized Sunday $3.7 million in undeclared currency found inside five duffle bags on board an abandoned vessel near the coast of Fajardo.
“We remain committed to working with other federal and local law enforcement partners to detect and deter smuggling attempts throughout the Caribbean,” stated Johnny Morales, Director, Air and Marine Operations for the Caribbean Air and Marine Branch.
On July 7, U.S. CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Marine Interdiction agents (MIAs) detected a vessel navigating without lights moving east from Fajardo towards the U.S. Virgin Islands. The MIAs requested assistance from an AMO DHC-8 Marine Patrol Aircraft crew to maintain surveillance of suspect vessel.
The vessel abruptly turned around towards Maternillo, Fajardo, landing the vessel near the entrance to the Rio Fajardo.
The MIAs, Border Patrol Agents, and DEA Special Agents pursued the vessel and its occupants, who were seen unloading duffle bags from the vessel, immediately abandoning their cargo and absconding. The agents found five abandoned duffle bags containing bulk US currency.
The undeclared currency totaled $3,700,000. A loaded Taurus .40 caliber pistol and 63 rounds of ammunition were also found.
CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws.
AMO is a federal law enforcement organization dedicated to serving and protecting the American people through advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities. With approximately 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel, 240 aircraft, and 300 marine vessels operating throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands, AMO conducts its mission in the air and maritime environments at and beyond the border, and within the nation's interior.
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.