US faces tough fight in cash smuggling crackdown

ERIC TUCKER Associated Press Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal authorities say they've stepped up efforts in recent years to stem the flow of illicit cash pouring across the southwestern border.

It's illegal to try to smuggle more than $10,000 in unreported cash. Officials say the money often represents the proceeds of drug trafficking and other crimes.

The Obama administration has identified targeting bulk cash smuggling as part of its broader effort to fight transnational crime. Federal immigration agents report a spike in arrests and in cash seizures over the last half-dozen years. And officials in December announced the expansion of a bulk cash smuggling center in Vermont.

But experts say it's tough to stem the flow of cash, especially because the amount of money being seized represents a fraction of the total funds being smuggled.