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Financial Crimes
09/10/2009

ICE and Colombian National Police seize more than $11.2 million at largest cargo port in Colombia

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents along with Colombian customs inspectors and Colombian National Police (CNP) officers seized approximately $11.2 million Wednesday at the port of Buenaventura, Colombia. The seizure was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the CNP and ICE Attaché Bogota.

The U.S. currency was hidden in two shipping containers, each containing 20 big bags filled with ammonium sulfate. Sixteen of the 40 bags contained $700,000 in $20 dollar bill denominations. The containers departed from the port of Manzanillo, Mexico, destined to the west coast port of Buenaventura, Colombia.

According to Colombian customs inspectors, this seizure is the most cash ever seized by police at a port in Colombia.

"It is ICE's mission to work with our overseas law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations involved in contraband and bulk cash smuggling, which includes tracking and seizing the illegal proceeds derived from their illicit activities," said the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for ICE John Morton. "This seizure of $11.2 million has surely put a dent in the illegal activities of the individuals involved."

The ICE investigation is ongoing by ICE's Attaché office in Bogota, Colombia.

ICE is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, charged with preventing terrorist and criminal activity by targeting the people, money, and materials that support terrorist and criminal organizations. The ICE Office of International Affairs (OIA) is a critical asset in this mission, responsible for enhancing national security by conducting and coordinating international investigations involving transnational criminal organizations and serving as ICE's liaison to counterparts in local government and law enforcement.