U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than 10 pounds of marijuana in a Nigeria-bound passenger’s checked baggage at Washington Dulles International Airport on October 18.
CBP officers discovered the marijuana, which consisted of 10 vacuum-sealed packages concealed inside clothing in a traveler’s suitcase, while examining baggage of travelers boarding a flight to Lagos, Nigeria. The marijuana weighed a combined 4.7 kilograms, or about 10 pounds and six ounces.
Officers were unable to locate the traveler associated with the suitcase at the departure gate or in the airport. An investigation continues.
Dulles Airport is nearly 5,500 miles from Lagos, Nigeria, and is an unusual marijuana smuggling route. Marijuana is illegal in Nigeria for both recreational and medical uses.
The marijuana had a street value in the United States of about $8,000 and about $30,000 in Nigeria.
CBP officers have also seized more than $227,000 from travelers departing Dulles Airport to Africa during the last 30 days for violating U.S. currency reporting laws.
The most recent seizure was the largest as CBP officers seized $101,825 from a U.S. citizen couple destined to Lagos, Nigeria on October 15. The couple verbally declared $19,600 and completed a U.S. Treasury Department FINCEN 105 form reporting that amount. A subsequent baggage search revealed additional envelopes of currency. Officers seized all the currency and released the travelers.
The same day, CBP officers seized $13,332 in unreported currency from a U.S. lawful permanent resident who was destined to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The resident, a Togo national, reported that he possessed $2,700. Officers discovered the additional currency during a baggage examination.
On October 1, CBP officers seized $82,560 in unreported currency from a U.S. traveler who attempted to board a flight to Accra, Ghana, and on September 17, CBP officers seized $29,822 in unreported currency from a U.S. father and daughter who were boarding a flight to Doha, Qatar. A CBP currency detector dog alerted to the bulk currency in these two seizures.
The total amount of unreported currency seized was $227,539.
“The most important lesson for international travelers to understand is that they can travel with as much currency as they desire, but that they must truthfully report it all to a CBP officer. It’s that simple,” said Kim Der-Yeghiayan, Acting CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington, D.C.