MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A major cash stash seizure by U.S.  Custom and Border Protection officers at Miami International Airport totaled almost a half-million dollars.

The money was being smuggled out of the United States in furniture, according to CBP officials.  The shipment was headed to the Dominican Republic and was selected for examination during outbound enforcement operations on Sept. 3.

The CBP officers at MIA discovered $491,280 in unreported U.S. currency concealed inside the bottom of a cushion chair that was part of a crate containing furniture.

CBP at MIA discovered $491,280 in unreported U.S. currency being smuggled out of the U.S. in furniture on Sept. 3. (Courtesy: CBP)

It is legal to carry large sums of currency into or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country. Failure to do so may lead to the seizure and forfeiture of most or all of the currency, and potential criminal charges.

CBP at MIA discovered $491,280 in unreported U.S. currency being smuggled out of the U.S. in furniture on Sept. 3. (Courtesy: CBP)

“Criminal organizations will attempt to export large sums of cash to launder their ill-gotten gains,” said Robert Del Toro, CBP’s Acting Port Director at Miami  International Airport.  “This is a significant seizure and represents the impact we can make on criminal’s profits and was the direct result of our officer’s vigilance and watchfulness.”

On a typical day, CBP seizes an average of about $207,000 in unreported or illicit currency along our nation’s borders.

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