Tuesday 23 July, 2019

Sniffer dogs help customs seize over $400,000 in cash

The Customs and Border Control (CBC) Service, with the help of its detection dogs, have seized more than $400,000 to date since operations since February 2018. 

These finds, including some cash found in violation of CBC’s currency reporting requirements, were as a result of proactive and operational activities by CBC officers. Others were conducted jointly with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service. 

The detection dogs were obtained from the United Kingdom and deployed.

The first cash detection occurred a few days after the canines were deployed in 2018. On this occasion, the sniffer dogs alerted authorities about two passengers departing from Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA). A subsequent search of the two passengers by CBC and Financial Crime Unit officers recovered a large sum of cash.

The cash was seized pending further investigations. 

During another notable CBC proactive operation conducted in August 2018, a detection dog alerted its handler on two passengers departing the ORIA. When a woman was stopped and asked by CBC officers if she had any cash in her bags or on her person, she told them she was not carrying any money on her. 

Officers then decided to conduct a search of the individual and her baggage, and discovered more than US$10,000 that was strapped to her body, hidden under her clothes to avoid detection. The woman was arrested on suspicion of handling criminal property. 

During this same operation, the detection dogs alerted authorities to another passenger, and they found more than US$6,000 in the person’s luggage. Subsequent enquiries showed that the man and money had no nexus to illegal activity and he was allowed to continue his travel. 

During a joint RCIPS and CBC drug operation in June 2018, more than CI$250,000 was seized with the aid of the canines during a house search. After another house search in February 2019, a significant amount of cash was found inside the home with the help of the detection dogs. 

In June, CBC officers seized a significant amount of cash when a dog aided in the detection of US$135,000 hidded under the floor panels of a private aircraft. 

On numerous other occasions, the sniffer dogs alerted to cash found either in travellers’ baggage or on their persons upon arrival or departure from the Islands. 

“These travellers were very fortunate to avoid criminal prosecution as they either reported to CBC officers or was below the amount required to be declared to CBC," CBC Assistant Director (Narcotics Enforcement Team and K-9 Unit), Ms. Tina Campbell said. 

CBC Assistant Director (Fraud Enforcement Division), Alberto Powery added: “Customs and Border Control hopes these detections and subsequent seizures will serve as a reminder to all travellers that being truthful with CBC officers is the best policy. The best way to hold onto one's currency is to truthfully and report the total amount to the authorities.” 

CBC routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts narcotics, weapons, currency, and other illicit items at the country’s international ports of entry. 

There is no limit to how much currency and negotiable monetary instruments travellers can import or export, but the law requires travellers to declare to the CBC amounts totalling CI$15,000 or more, or its foreign equivalent, or a combination of both. 

Coupled with the requirement to make a declaration of currency or BNIs (Bearer Negotiable Instruments), travellers must also file additional particulars with CBC. Failure to make such a declaration for the total amount you are carrying may result in the seizure of all the currency, negotiable monetary instruments or bullion and may subject you to civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution. 

CBC Deputy Director Jeff Jackson, who has oversight and responsibility of the Enforcement Portfolio, which includes the Narcotics Enforcement, K-9 Unit and Fraud Enforcement sections, said: “There’s no doubt that canines are a valuable asset to law enforcement, not only for detecting drugs, weapons and other illicit contraband, but a variety of other things including identifying illegal movement of money.” 

Deputy Director Jackson also explained that additional canines will be arriving soon and will be trained specifically to detect explosives and other contraband including terrorist implements.

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