BALTIMORE – It’s a gamble that many travelers continue to lose as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) continue to seize unreported currency and marijuana from travelers who deliberately ignore our nation’s laws.
During the past five weeks, CBP officers have seized a combined $80,388 in unreported currency from five travelers and assessed a combined $4,000 in Zero Tolerance penalties to eight travelers for marijuana possession. Officers seized marijuana from two additional couples but did not assess civil penalties in those cases.
Of the 15 marijuana and currency seizures from August 16 through Wednesday, 13 involved passengers on flights destined to or that arrived from Montego Bay, Jamaica. The other two seizures involved passengers who arrived on flights from Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
CBP is not releasing the names of any of the travelers because none were criminally charged.
Even though some states have decriminalized marijuana, possession remains a violation of federal law and violators may face hefty civil penalties.
“It’s important that travelers must understand that marijuana possession remains a federal offense, and that travelers must clear a Customs and Border Protection inspection station upon arriving and departing the United States, so it’s probably a very wise decision for them to leave their marijuana at home or back on vacation,” said Adam Rottman, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore. “Unfortunately, that message isn’t getting through.”
Additionally, U.S. federal law [31 U.S.C. 5316] requires travelers to truthfully report all currency that they possess to a CBP officer, and that they complete a U.S. Treasury Department form (FINCEN 105) for all currency and other monetary instruments that exceed $10,000. Read more about currency reporting requirements.
“We want travelers to be assured that they may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States, and Customs and Border Protection officers will help them to complete the necessary Treasury form if required, but travelers should also know any actions less than truthful could result in them missing their departure flight,” Rottman said.
CBP seized an average of about $386,000 in unreported currency and 3,677 pounds of illicit narcotics every day last year along our nation’s borders. Learn more about what CBP accomplished during “A Typical Day” in 2020.
“Despite repeated reminders, some travelers continue to gamble that Customs and Border Protection officers won’t find their marijuana or unreported currency, and that’s a bad bet. We would hope that these costly experiences educate all travelers to the importance of complying with our nation’s laws,” Rottman said.
CBP’s border security mission is led at ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality.