US customs agents intercept $ 27 million in cash on board a ship bound for the Virgin Islands – largest ever seizure in the region
- Federal agents in Puerto Rico inspected cargo in the port of San Juan on Saturday
- CBP K-9 noticed something suspicious in one of the pallets on board Norma H II
- Agents opened boxes and found $ 27 million in cash in vacuum bags
- No arrests have been made, but the investigation is ongoing, according to authorities
- Researchers suspect drug cartels and criminal groups have attempted to launder money
Federal authorities announced on Tuesday that they had seized $ 27 million in unreported cash aboard a ship bound for the U.S. Virgin Islands, the largest such seizure ever in the region.
US Customs and Border Protection said a dog inspecting cargo on a ship docked in Puerto Rico on Saturday warned officers about the money found in moving boxes bound for St. Thomas.
Nobody has been arrested.
Federal agents on Saturday inspected cargo aboard a Togo ship, the Norma H II, at Pier 10 in San Juan.
US federal agents seized $ 27 million on Saturday while inspecting cargo aboard a boat docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
During the inspection, CBP K-9 indicated that there were suspicious items on pallets containing several moving boxes destined for St. Thomas. When CBP agents opened one of the boxes, they saw piles of US dollars packed in vacuum-packed packages
The money was seized when federal agents inspected cargo aboard a Togo sailing vessel, the Norma H II (seen in the above stock image), at Pier 10 in San Juan on Saturday
During the inspection, CBP K-9 indicated that there were suspicious items on pallets containing several moving boxes destined for St. Thomas.
When CBP agents opened one of the boxes, they saw piles of US dollars packed in vacuum-packed packages.
In total, the pallets contained 34 freight boxes with undeclared currency.
Several agencies, including the CBP, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the District Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico, and local law enforcement in Puerto Rico are conducting an investigation.
“This seizure is a clear indication of the success of our joint investigative efforts,” said W. Stephen Muldrow, US Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico’s geographic location, along with its status as a territory of the United States, makes it an ideal target for transnational criminal organizations looking to import narcotics into the continental United States and facilitate the repatriation of their drug proceeds.
“To eradicate this threat, we will continue to aggressively attack their drug trafficking and money laundering operations – by depriving them of their illegal merchandise, their profits, and a safe haven.”
Last year, the European Union added Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – two US territories – to its list of ‘dirty money’ entities that require European banks to be more careful when dealing with financial institutions in those jurisdictions.
Two other US territories – Guam and American Samoa – were added to a list of countries such as North Korea, Libya and Yemen.
The EU’s ‘dirty money’ list includes countries and areas where drug dealers, terrorists and corrupt dictators are said to launder money.
The EU then backtracked on its decision to include US territories under pressure from Washington.