Man sentenced for trying to smuggle $42K in toothpaste boxes

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A Philadelphia International Airport employee was sentenced for attempting to fly to Jamaica while reportedly carrying luggage containing toothpaste boxes filled with $42,000 of undeclared currency that didn't go through security, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hugh James, 52, of Philadelphia, was sentenced to six months in jail, two years of supervised released and was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 and a mandatory special assessment of $200 for attempting to board an international flight with undeclared currency that had not passed through airport security, according to a press release dated March 5 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

On October 9, 2020, James, an airport employee with access to the secure area of the airport, tried to board a flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

When questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers during boarding, James purportedly initially denied having cash in his carry-on luggage. However, his luggage was searched and $62,000 in undeclared cash, including $42,000 in $100 bills that were inside sealed toothpaste boxes, was found, according to the release.

Further investigation revealed that James reportedly arranged to have the cash smuggled around the U.S. Transportation Security Administration screening area. 

James, who pleaded guilty in November 2023 to evading airport security and failure to declare currency, was ordered to forfeit the $62,000, according to the release.

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