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Financial Crimes
01/20/2009

ICE seizes more than $71,000 and arrests man for bulk cash smuggling

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents arrested a man earlier this week who attempted to leave the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport without declaring excess currency in the amount of $71,601.

The U.S. currency was hidden in the luggage that Yoel Altamonte, 25, checked-in for a trip the Dominican Republic and that was discovered during a routine inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspectors.

"Bulk cash smuggling is a serious crime," said Manuel Oyola Torres, Special Agent-in-Charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Puerto Rico. "Those who think that our ports are easy transshipment points for contraband are mistaken. ICE, along with our Department of Homeland Security partners, will continue using our unique authorities to enforce our immigration and customs laws."

Altamonte was charged with bulk cash smuggling and failure to declare an amount of money exceeding $10,000.

He was transferred to the Guaynabo Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting the outcome of his case.

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico accepted this case for prosecution.

The ICE investigation into this case is ongoing.

If convicted, the defendant faces a sentence of up to five years in prison.

Altamonte is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.