A man flying to the Middle East from New York was caught with more than £500,000 in cash.
Abdulkarim Altareb attempted to catch a flight from JFK Airport on 1 March with wads of crisp notes hidden in his luggage.
The 48-year-old from Yemen, who was boarding a plane to Qatar, told authorities the money was for his “really big family”.
“We are trying to build a building in Yemen. This is my brothers’, two brothers’ money,” he told US Customs and Border Protection officers, according to a criminal complaint.
It added: “The defendant also said, in sum and substance, that some of the money was his money and some of the money belonged to his family, and that he has a big family.”
Suspicious customs officials found the money stashed in boxes of Alka-Seltzer, Dove soap plasters and food seasoning, the New York Post reports.
A law enforcement source told the newspaper there was “no indication” the money was meant to fund terrorist activities.
“Examination of two pieces of luggage checked by the defendant revealed more than $770,000 (£502,000) in additional United States currency.
“[It was] concealed in various places, including boxes of the following: hand soaps; Band-Aids; Thera-flu; Splenda and Alka-Seltzer.”
The suspect was charged with bulk cash smuggling and is due to appear in court this week. He was denied bail at the first hearing.
SOURCE: Mark Molloy