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Financial Crimes
07/09/2009

Global G-8 operation targeting cash couriers nets more than $7 million

NAPLES, Italy - Law enforcement agencies from the Group of Eight (G-8) countries announced today the results of an unprecedented multilateral cash courier operation, which netted more than $3.5 million dollars in 81 cash seizures and detected another $4.2 million in undeclared currency at ports of entry around the world.

The operation was developed through the G8 Roma/Lyon group and illustrates the value of close, real-time, international collaboration in identifying and fighting currency smuggling. Cash smuggling is a crime that impacts every society. Organized crime syndicates and terrorists employ couriers every day to move the funds necessary to support their illicit operations while hoping to avoid detection. Cash couriers use a variety of methods to smuggle cash; however, commercial airlines are preferred because many foreign destinations can be reached quickly with little or no pre-planning required. With this operation, the G8 has shown the strong role it can play in keeping innocent citizens safe from crime by denying criminals critical assets.

During the three-day operation authorities examined hundreds of flights at multiple international airports. An examination conducted by British authorities led to the arrest of a 17-year old female who was apprehended as she attempted to leave the United Kingdom while carrying approximately £380,000 (approximately $550,000) in her checked luggage. UK officials discovered the currency on a flight destined to Vietnam. A search of her UK residence by UK authorities led to the seizure on an additional £12,000 (approximately $17,000). She now faces criminal charges in the United Kingdom.

"Smuggled currency fuels terrorism and criminal activity around the world," said U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano. "This successful operation demonstrates the strength of international cooperation to combat common threats and ensure mutual security."

"The G8 ministerial meeting of Justice and Home Affairs held in Rome a month ago," said Italian Minister of the Interior Roberto Maroni, "showed us that the aggression of criminal wealth is a key to fight transnational organized crime. In this vein, Operation Mantis is a perfect example of what has to be done in order to attain our common objectives in terms of law enforcement and enhancement of security, both domestically and internationally".

The operation is the result of two years of intense dialogue among the G8 countries and supports the objectives of Financial Action Task Force Special Recommendation IX. At the 2007 G-8 Summit in Germany, heads of state called on their law enforcement agencies in the Roma/Lyon group to maximize information sharing, support law enforcement investigations and facilitate the enforcement of cash declarations. This operation is a major step towards accomplishing this mission.

"By cutting off their supply of ill-gotten and illegally smuggled gains, ICE and our international partners can deliver a crippling blow to the criminals networks that depend on bulk cash smugglers to move their money around the globe," said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton.

During the operation, G-8 members shared real-time information and intelligence in order to further target and interdict cash couriers. In addition to intelligence sharing, airports in many G-8 countries employed a variety of methods to detect cash carried in baggage, on travelers, or in shipments. Detection methods included the use of currency detector dogs, X-ray and gamma-ray equipment, body searches and ion mobility scanners.

"Multinational enforcement efforts, such as Operation Mantis, disrupt crime and terrorist organizations' source of income," said CBP Acting Commissioner Jayson Ahern. "By seizing the funds they use to support their operations, these organizations are increasingly struggling against the combined efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and our G-8 partners. We stand resolved to confront their operations at every turn."

Bulk cash smuggling is the act of concealing currency and/or reportable monetary instruments with the intent of evading currency reporting requirements, in an attempt to transfer or transport the currency or monetary instrument across an international border. Led by the DHS, ICE and CBP in conjunction with its partner G-8 countries, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, this joint operation aimed to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that use cash couriers to move their illicit gains around the world.

Participating Agencies:

  • CANADA - Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)
  • FRANCE - French Customs
  • GERMANY - German Customs
  • ITALY - Guardia di Finanza
  • JAPAN - Japan Customs
  • UNITED KINGDOM - The UK Border Agency/HM Revenue & Customs. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) FIU and various Police Forces
  • UNITED STATES - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The G-8 is a multilateral group consisting of the world's major industrial democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The G-8 addresses a wide range of international economic, political, and security issues. The Roma/Lyon group is comprised of experts from the Interior, Justice, Foreign and other ministries and the police services and is the main forum for G-8 cooperation on fighting terrorism and organized crime.