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Financial Crimes

ICE and CBP train Thai officials to detect and investigate bulk cash smuggling

Washington, D.C. – Special Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are providing training on the interdiction and investigation of bulk cash smuggling (BCS) to Thai law enforcement officials in Bangkok October 20 – 23, 2008.

More than 50 participants from 13 Thai agencies are expected to participate in this four-day training.  The training includes include classroom presentations and practical exercises on identifying money laundering schemes, terrorist financing, international standards and best practices for investigating and interdicting bulk cash.  This is the seventh training in 2008 that ICE and CBP have provided.

“As electronic controls on the transfer of money become tighter, old school methods of hiding currency in anything from a fake roll of Lifesavers to a cargo container are becoming more common,” said Julie L. Myers, Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for ICE. “By working together and sharing resources and expertise, law enforcement agencies across the globe can disrupt the cash flow that fuels illegal activities and funds terrorist and other criminal organizations.”

As part of the Terrorist Finance Working Group, an interagency group that includes the Departments of Treasury, Justice, Homeland Security and State, ICE and CBP are designated as the lead agencies responsible for providing training and capacity building to foreign government counterparts. 

ICE and CBP provide classroom as well as hands-on operational training to primarily mid-to-senior level officials in agencies that have responsibility for the investigation of money laundering, terrorist financing, bulk cash smuggling, etc., as well as responsibility for combating these offenses at the border.

“Through partnerships, law enforcement communities around the globe can more effectively combat illegal activity,” said CBP Commissioner W. Ralph Basham. “Our partnership with Thai law enforcement community is an excellent example of how we work together to combat the illegal flow of bulk cash payments to terrorist organizations.”

Since 2004, ICE and CBP conducted more than 26 trainings for nearly 1,100 officials in 41 countries in the methods of cash interdiction, as well as the follow-up investigation that takes place once an interdiction has occurred. Other countries in this region where training has taken place include Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Bulk cash smuggling involves the transportation of large sums of undeclared or concealed currency or monetary instruments across international borders.  Criminal organizations smuggle currency for a variety of reasons, including to launder their illicit proceeds and to promote the continuation of the criminal activity. The money may be derived from a wide array of criminal activities including narcotics trafficking, human smuggling, and bank fraud.

The Hands Across the World (HAW) program, led by ICE began in 2007 and built upon the success of Operation Firewall, which targets BCS in the U.S. interior, at the ports of entry and internationally.  The expansion of HAW is part of a larger strategy and series of international partnerships to disrupt the movement of illicit bulk cash around the globe that includes the exchange of information including cash declaration data between ICE, CBP, and foreign law enforcement agencies. Since 2005, ICE’s BCS operations are credited for the seizure of more than $151 million in seizures; $67 million taking place internationally, including seizures in Mexico, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Israel, Ireland, Spain, Italy, and the UK.