The number of people caught trying to sneak cash in and out of the U.S. is skyrocketing, with “hot money” being detected in diaper boxes, money belts, underwear, baby clothes, bras, and candy boxes, ther Boston Herald reports. Nationally, seizure totals have soared by 50 percent, from about $50 million to $75 million, between 2005 and 2008, says the Customs and Border Protection agency.
Between June 1 and Aug. 12, 35 seizures totaling $856,119 have been made in New England. “We do not know why there is such a huge increase in the number of seizures this past summer,” said an agency spokesman. Speculation ranges from tighter overall inspections at border crossings to a growing number of people trying to ferret money overseas due to recession and economic tumult. Funneling hot money is a vital law enforcement concern because it is often connected to drugs and global terrorism, said John Pike, director of the military and security Web site globalsecurity.org. “Drug dealers and terrorists are going to try to use cash because it's much more difficult for law enforcement to trace their activities,” he said. “If they are operating through the banking system it's too easy to track. Cash is hard to trace and it's easy to spend.”