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Customs seizes $4.9 million in drug money

PHOENIX — Seizures of money bound mostly for Mexico's violent drug cartels more than quadrupled this year on the Arizona border, and government officials are crediting beefed-up screening at checkpoints.

Inspectors intercepted $1.1 million heading into Mexico in fiscal 2008. This year, they netted $4.9 million.

Brian Levin, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, said the seizures reflect a new focus in the smuggling clampdown and the U.S. efforts to help Mexico fight its bloody drug war, though the amount confiscated is just a fraction of the millions of dollars in drug- and human-smuggling profits funneled back to Mexican syndicates each year.

Federal law requires that cash transactions or shipments of more than $10,000 must be declared, whether in the form of currency or wire transfers.

Until this year, U.S. inspections on the border primarily targeted incoming traffic from Mexico while ignoring vehicles headed south.

Broken pipe forces air terminal evacuation

WASHINGTON — Officials at Reagan National Airport have evacuated part of a terminal and closed a baggage claim area after a broken pipe caused flooding.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Tara Hamilton, said the flooding Saturday was ankle deep in the terminal C baggage claim area. She said a dozen gates in terminal C were also closed.

The gates were mostly for US Airways flights. Airline spokesman Todd Lemacher says US Airways has canceled the remaining flights in and out of the airport.

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