By Natalie Lopez
A 52-year-old woman was arrested at Washington Dulles International Airport on Friday for trying to sneak into the country with about $48,000 in cash.
Irene Maloba Kayembe was allegedly concealing the money within envelopes, books, a make-up bag, a small curse, and a cell phone holder insider her luggage. According to court documents, aside from the $48,000 Kayembe was carrying in U.S. currency, she also had the equivalent of $2,694 in foreign currency. Kayembe was arrested by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation agents at Dulles airport.
There is not a limit to how much money a person may bring in or out of the country but federal law requires that a traveler report any amount over $10,000 in US currency or the equivalent in foreign currency. According to court documents, Kayembe told Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials that she was carrying $5,000 with her…then she verbally changed the amount to $8,000. Kayembe changed her declared amount again when she wrote $9,000 on her CBP Declaration form.
“Customs and Border Protection officers allow international travelers multiple opportunities to honestly comply with federal currency reporting requirements before enacting severe consequences. Those consequences may include losing their currency and potential criminal charges as demonstrated in this arrest,” said Christopher Hess, CBP Port Director for the Port of Washington, D.C. “The easiest way for travelers to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it.”
Kayambe will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for violating federal currency reporting regulations. CBP officers seized the $48,000 in U.S. dollars and released $2,694 in foreign currency to family members traveling with Kayembe. The foreign currency was in Congo francs, South African rands, British pounds, and in Euros. CBP issued a detainer for Kayembe. She will be returned to CBP following adjudication of her charges for a final admissibility review.