Substantial haul in the basement

In early December 2019, customs officer Nico van Roon and a colleague stumbled across approximately 1.4 million Euros during a check in Schiphol's underground luggage hall. It was, by far, the biggest liquid assets haul at the national airport to date.

“The luggage basement is our domain; we carry out inspections for various customs risks. It mainly concerns drugs but we’re also on the lookout for the smuggling of money. We look at certain reference points on items of luggage – especially: where does it originate from and where is it going? – and pick out a couple from the belt. We open them and completely empty them. When you conduct a liquid assets check, you have to be prepared for anything, because bundles of banknotes can be hidden anywhere, in shampoo bottles, between the pages of a book, in a carton of cigarettes but also in the telescoping handle, the grips or double walls of the suitcase itself. Smugglers are highly inventive people...”

“During my time with Customs, I’ve discovered large amounts of cash before – up to a couple of hundreds of thousands – but our discovery in December topped them all. It was a foil-wrapped suitcase on wheels that drew our attention and we soon discovered our suspicions were right. Inside, we found plastic bags full of 50 Euro notes. We soon realised it had to be more than 10,000 Euros, so I immediately contacted the liquid assets team. In the meantime, my colleague checked the airline’s system and found out this passenger had checked in more hold luggage. We found more money in that bag. When we finally finished counting, the total came to almost 1.4 million Euros – 24 kilos in paper money. We confiscated it immediately, the traveller at the gate was taken in for questioning and subsequently apprehended.”

“A case such as this one shows that passenger traffic may conceal a lot of undeclared and criminal funds. That’s why it’s good to know that liquid assets was recently appointed as one of the centrepieces of customs control.”

This interview also appeared in our recently issued overview ‘Dutch Customs in 2019’. Click here to read the full publication.

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