Sniffer dogs have a nose for trouble

Paw patrols help sniff out cash

Customs and Border Control Officer Anthony Echenique with sniffer dog Sjoerd, a Belgian Malinois.
Customs and Border Control Officer Anthony Echenique with sniffer dog Sjoerd, a Belgian Malinois.

Detection dogs have sniffed out more than $400,000 in cash since they were first deployed to help protect Cayman’s borders.

The Customs and Border Control Service has been using sniffer dogs to target the movement of large quantities of undeclared cash since February 2018.

Recent seizures have included $135,000 concealed beneath the floor panels of a private plane, $10,000 in cash strapped to the body of a woman travelling through the airport and $250,000 discovered in a joint raid with police at a Cayman home.

Some of those incidents have led to criminal prosecutions or prompted wider investigations. It is legal to move cash in and out of the Cayman Islands, so long as the amounts are declared to Customs. In some cases undeclared cash movement has been linked to money laundering or drug trafficking activity.

Jeff Jackson, deputy director of customs and border control, said the dogs were an effective tool to help tackle multiple offences.

“There’s no doubt that canines are a valuable asset to law enforcement, not only for detecting drugs, weapons and other illicit contraband, but a variety of other things including identifying illegal movement of money.”

Customs and Border Control routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts narcotics, weapons, currency, and other illicit items at the country’s international ports of entry.

There is no limit to how much currency travellers can import or export, but the law requires amounts totalling CI$15,000 or more to be declared.

Alberto Powery, assistant director in the unit’s fraud division, said, “Customs and Border Control hopes these detections and subsequent seizures will serve as a reminder to all travellers that being truthful with CBC officers is the best policy. The best way to hold onto one’s currency is to truthfully and report the total amount to the authorities.”

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