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Feds Seize Record $27 Million In Cash Aboard Ship Headed To St. Thomas

SAN JUAN — Federal authorities found $27 million in undeclared cash Saturday on a ship set to travel from Puerto Rico to St. Thomas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced in a press release.

“Legal currency can be transported if properly declared under U.S. law.  Transnational Criminal Organizations seek to conceal proceeds and move it as part of their criminal activities,” Gregory Alvarez, Director of Field Operations in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, said.  “We remain committed to working with other federal and local law enforcement partners to detect and deter smuggling attempts throughout the Caribbean.”

The cash was seized when federal agents inspected cargo aboard a Togo-flagged vessel, the Norma H II (seen in the above stock image), at Pier 10 in San Juan on Saturday.

During outbound inspections for cargo on board the vessel MV Norma H II Voyage 818, a CBP K-9 alerted on some un-manifested pallets containing home moving boxes destined for St. Thomas.

CBP officers opened one of the boxes and discovered US currency wrapped in vacuum-sealed packages. Further inspection of the pallets revealed a total of 34 cargo boxes containing the rest of the undeclared currency. 

Federal agents seized $27million in cash while inspecting cargo on board a boat docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Saturday.

CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws.   

“This seizure is a clear indication of the success of our joint investigative efforts,” W. Stephen Muldrow, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, said.

This is an ongoing collaborative High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) investigation being conducted by CBP, the DEA Caribbean Region, HSI San Juan and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.

The agency seized the cash, but no one has been arrested in the case.

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