PEMBINA, N.D. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized $3.6 million in counterfeit currency at the Pembina Port of Entry on Friday, Sept. 11.
According to CBP, officers inspecting commercial cargo received a shipment described as toy guns. The officer receiving the shipment decided to inspect it further and found nine toy guns and 36,000 counterfeit $100 bills, CBP spokesperson Kristi Lakefield said.
Though CBP frequently seizes counterfeit money in the United States, it happens less frequently in Pembina, according to Lakefield, who said that, when it does happen, it tends to be in smaller amounts.
At this time, the $3.6 million seized is not suspected to be a part of a larger operation, said Lakefield, noting that she doesn't expect any criminal charges will be pressed in the case.
The counterfeit currency seized Friday will be destroyed, according to CBP.
Pembina Area Port Director Jason Schmelz said in a statement that, by seizing the counterfeit money, it was kept from entering the U.S. economy.
"To have such a significant seizure on the 19th anniversary of 9/11 shows the commitment all of our officers have, not only today, but every single day they come to work, in order to keep our country safe from all threats," he said.
Pembina County Sheriff Terry Meidinger said there has been an uptick in reports of counterfeit money in Pembina County recently. While counterfeit bills rarely circulate in the area, he estimates there have been three to four reports in the past six months.
Those reports were of counterfeit bills in smaller denominations, such as $20 and $50 bills, according to Meidinger, who noted it's unclear whether those bills are originating from a local person or group or from someone outside the area. At this time, Meidinger said he doesn't see any connection between the uptick in reports and the $3.6 million seized last week.
"I wouldn't say it's a trend," Meidinger said. "I think it's been so sporadic."