U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized nearly $45,000 from passengers in two days at Washington Dulles International Airport.
On New Year’s Day, 12,000 euros were seized from a Cameroonian man. On Wednesday, officers seized $29,012 from an Ethiopian man for violating federal currency reporting regulations.
A passenger arrived on a flight from Ethiopia on New Year’s Day, according to reports, and was referred to secondary inspection where he reported that he had 4,000 euros in his possession. CBP officers searched his luggage and found 12,000 euros, worth $16,000, and $430 in U.S. currency. The $430 was returned to the traveler for humanitarian relief.
On Wednesday, a passenger arrived on a flight from Ethiopia and was referred to secondary inspection where he reported he had $2,000 in his possession. CBP officers searched his luggage and discovered a large sum of money hidden in a shoe. CBP officers again asked him how much money he was traveling with and he reported $7,000. The search continued and CBP officers discovered more money in another shoe and inside a toiletry bag. CBP officers again asked him how much money he was traveling with and he reported $15,000. CBP officers completed the inspection and counted the money which totaled $29,012 along with 4,987 Ethiopian birr and 50 Saudi Arabian riyals. The $29,012 was seized and the foreign currency, worth approximately $286, was returned to the traveler for humanitarian relief.
There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.
CBP officers advised both travelers how to petition for the return of their seized currency.
“Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,” said Christopher Hess, CBP port director for the Port of Washington in a prepared statement. “The traveler was given the opportunity to truthfully report his currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”
In addition to narcotics interdiction, CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts currency, weapons, prohibited agriculture products or other illicit items.
Travelers should visit CBP’s Travel website at www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/ to learn rules governing travel to and from the U.S.