Officials in the United States have confiscated more than $2 million dumped in waters near the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The money was found in bags on Monday, near the popular tourist island of Vieques, just east of Puerto Rico’s main island, VOA reports.
The money was dumped in the waters during a chase and officials of U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been working assiduously since to identify the people who threw the money in the waters.
The latest seizure followed a similar one last July where more than $3 million from an abandoned boat off the coast of Puerto Rico was confiscated by custom police. The boat was heading toward the U.S. Virgin Islands with no lights.
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With three million people, Puerto Rico has no representative in either house of the US Congress and last month Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced plans to a nonbinding referendum in November to decide whether the territory should become a U.S. state.
“Everything important in life carries some risk,” former Puerto Rico governor Carlos Romero Barceló, a member of the Progressive New Party was quoted as saying.
The November referendum will for the first time in the history of the island ask one simple question. It will ask the question should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S state?
In previous referendums, multiple questions were presented including independence or upholding the current territorial status, but none had been “so direct as the one scheduled to be held during the Nov. 3 general elections,” according to ABC News.
“Our people will have the opportunity once and for all to define our future,” the outlet quoted Vázquez as saying. “It’s never too late to be treated as equals.”
Despite being U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections.
Already there is opposition to the upcoming referendum with Roberto Prats, a former Puerto Rico senator and member of the Popular Democratic Party, warning: “The only thing they’ve done is take away credibility from the statehood movement.”
“If we’re going to make a decision regarding our relationship with the U.S., the U.S. has to be involved in that discussion,” he added.
Statehood would award Puerto Rico two senators and five representatives.