MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers and Agents, along with other federal partners under the Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), discovered and seized $1.6 million in undeclared currency inside a large propane gas tank on board a disabled vessel found drifting near the coast of Cabo Rojo.
On May 23, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan requested assistance from a CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Marine Patrol Unit for a reported disabled vessel. The AMO marine unit found the vessel dead in the water 16 miles southwest of Cabo Rojo, with two men from the Dominican Republic on-board.
The vessel and its occupants were navigating to to Santo Domingo from the British Virgin Islands, when the vessel’s engine failed.
The AMO unit towed the vessel to the Mayaguez port where a CBP Field Operations Officer (CBPO) conducted an inspection.
A CBP canine alerted to the presence of a familiar odor from a large propane gas tank. Inside the tank the CBPO, AMO agent and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents discovered large sums of U.S. currency.
The undeclared currency totaled $1,638,700.
CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws. HSI Special Agents took custody of the two men and the currency for investigation and prosecution.
The Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) combats emerging and existing Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO) by employing the full range of federal, state, local, tribal and international law enforcement authorities and resources in the fight to identify, investigate, disrupt and dismantle these organizations at every level of operation. BEST partners stem from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Defense and Department of the Treasury, as well as other state and local law enforcement agencies
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.