WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bicycle tires, cereal boxes, stereo speakers and cars are among the places where U.S. Customs officials found $11.4 million in cash that people tried to smuggle out of the country.
The result of a six-week nationwide effort called "Operation Powerplay," the confiscated cash was part of a crackdown on money laundering, Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
The operation led to 194 arrests, including people wanted for armed robbery and drug possession and has given Customs leads to open 173 investigations.
More than half of the cash seized was destined for Mexico, Israel, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Jamaica, Customs said.
Operation Powerplay was "an integral part of our anti-money laundering strategy," Kelly said Thursday. "We know that bulk-cash shipments are still the way most drug money leaves the country," he added.
Most money laundering involves illicit profits from drug trafficking, prostitution or other criminal activities, which are moved through a series of bank or brokerage accounts to make them appear to be proceeds of legitimate business activity.
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