Criminal enterprises utilize all available means to move illegal assets. Often times, they resort to bulk cash smuggling to stay under the radar of regulatory and law enforcement agencies.
In August 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) established the National Bulk Cash Smuggling Center (BCSC) in Williston, Vt. The BCSC operates around the clock to help ICE agents and their law enforcement partners identify, investigate and disrupt criminal organizations profiting from financial crime. Since its inception, ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents have arrested 808 individuals and seized nearly $320 million while conducting bulk cash smuggling investigations.
The center's success hinges on its ability to collect and share vital information with local and state law enforcement agencies, as well as international partners. The BCSC also provides training for its law enforcement partners so they have the latest intelligence gathering techniques.
Bulk cash smugglers use all transportation vehicles available, including passenger vehicles, private and commercial airplanes, trains, boats and commercial trucks.
"Transnational criminal organizations will go to great lengths to disguise the location of where they hide their illicit bulk cash during the transportation process. Their only limitation is that of the imagination," said Joseph Burke, BCSC unit chief.
ICE has also encountered criminals trying to move cash proceeds through legitimate businesses and financial institutions. Criminals reinvest those proceeds to facilitate additional illegal operations.
"Criminal enterprise is an adaptive organism and — like all living systems — will alter its operational behavior in response to constraints leveraged against it," said Burke.
It is essential that ICE stay ahead of the curve. Criminal enterprises that smuggle large amounts of cash are often the same ones that engage in violent crimes, fund terrorist or extremist groups, traffic humans and commit commercial fraud.
"That's why the BCSC has waged a relentless campaign to identify and attack vulnerabilities in the bulk cash smuggling business model," said Burke.
If you have information that an individual, business or organization is engaged in the illicit transportation or smuggling of currency, please complete the BCSC form or call the ICE HSI Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE.