Two passengers fleeing Customs agents run boat aground, leaving behind $580,000
Published: August 16, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized more than $580,000 worth of cash after two people abandoned a boat and fled at Brewers Bay early Thursday morning.
The agency is investigating whether the cash is tied to the trafficking of illegal substances, according to Jeffrey Quiñones, spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Suspicions were raised after two people aboard the boat abandoned it when agents pursued them, Quiñones said.
Agents on a Midnight Express interceptor vessel descended upon the boat as it moved toward Brewers Bay about 2 a.m. Thursday.
"It was dark, so they could not see them," Quiñones said.
As the agents neared the boat, it failed to halt and instead fled, hitting the beach at a high rate of speed, according to a statement issued Thursday by Customs and Border Protection.
The two passengers fled once the boat ran aground, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, in conjunction with the V.I. Police Department SWAT team, could not find them.
The agents inspected the vessel and discovered several duffle bags containing $580,917 in U.S. currency.
Homeland Security Investigations received custody of the seized vessel and currency for further investigation, Quiñones said.
The vessel, depending on its condition, will either be destroyed, claimed or put up for public auction, he said.
Quiñones said it is not the first time that agents have found tens of thousands of dollars in cash, though they typically often find it alongside packages of illegal substances.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.