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6553: Customs Seize Haiti-Bound Freighter (fwd)




From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

 Customs Seize Haiti-Bound Freighter
 The Associated Press, Fri 5 Jan 2001

WASHINGTON (AP)  Customs agents seized $2 million in cash hidden in
plastic trash canisters on  board a freighter en route to Haiti,
officials said Friday. The seizure was part of a Customs Service
campaign to catch currency smugglers.The raid was Thursday on the
Honduran-flagged vessel, the KLAAS I, which agents boarded on the
Miami River in Florida, the agency said. Customs said the freighter was
minutes away from leaving Miami when the discovery was made.
 Customs said the matter remains under investigation to try to identify
the ownership of the currency and  whether other individuals were
involved. Members of the ship's crew were interviewed and eventually
released. There's no limit on how much money a person can carry on
entering or leaving the United States. But  federal law requires that
amounts of more than $10,000  in cash, travelers checks, cashier's
checks or securities that can be easily converted to cash  must be
reported to Customs. Such amounts that are            not reported can
be confiscated.    To detect hidden currency, customs officers use a
variety of methods including routine searches, X-ray  machines that scan
large containers and dogs specially trained to sniff out cash.     Last
month, customs agents in a nationwide operation seized more than $5.5
million that people tried to smuggle out of the country in unlikely
hiding places that included television sets and shoe soles.  Customs has
said its crackdown on currency smugglers is part of the agency's overall
strategy to attack
 money laundering.
 Most money laundering involves illicit profits from drug trafficking,
prostitution or other criminal activities. The profits are moved through
a series of bank or brokerage accounts to make them appear to be
proceeds from legitimate business activity.
 Each day, criminal groups generate huge sums of cash from illegal
activities but face difficulties depositing large amounts into U.S.
banks. As a result, criminals often smuggle cash to foreign locations,
where it can be more easily deposited into banks. Then it can be
instantly wired anywhere, customs officials say.