By Shannon McMahon
US Customs and Border Protection officers uncovered about $490 000 (R8.1-million) in cash while screening a piece of furniture passing through Miami International Airport last week, CBP said in a news release Wednesday.
A crate bound for the Dominican Republic on September 3 contained an accent chair that was found to be stuffed with the illegal amount of money.
Miami International Airport’s acting port director, Robert Del Toro, shared an image of the crate and chair full of cash on social media, noting that the money was sewn into the cushion of the chair. Amounts of cash that total more than $10 000 must be reported at ports of entry or when leaving the country, according to the CBP website.
“Criminal organisations will attempt to export large sums of cash to launder their ill-gotten gains,” Del Toro said in the news release. “This is a significant seizure and represents the impact we can make on criminal’s profits and was the direct result of our officer’s vigilance and watchfulness.”
Furniture isn’t the only household item smugglers have used recently: Earlier this month, officers at Miami International Airport uncovered a stash of drugs inside a washing machine, Del Toro tweeted.
“CBP uses a variety of techniques to intercept narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products, and to assure that global tourism remains safe and strong,” CBP said in the news release. Violating the currency-reporting law results in “seizure and forfeiture of most or all of the currency, and potential criminal charges.”
The agency seizes an average of $207,000 (R3,4 million) per day in illegal currency from its combined operations on US borders, according to the news release. The Transportation Security Administration, which, like CBP, is part of the US Department of Homeland Security, recently shared that it collected almost a million unclaimed dollars from airport security last year.