Detroit CAFRA Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit

CBP Seized $20,242 at Detroit Metro Airport

Last week’s forfeiture.gov publication of legal notices of seizure and intent to forfeit revealed more unfortunate news for someone out there who had their cash seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, as recently as March 6, 2017.

Here’s why it’s unfortunate: If the money was seized on March 7, the notice of seizure was probably not sent until about March 21, which would give the interested person 30 days to respond with a petition (or 35 days to file a claim) — that puts a deadline at about April 6 for a petition, or April 11 for a claim.

The fact that notice has been published means 1) somebody got their petition denied (unlikely in 30 days unless the documentation was terrible); 2) somebody filed a claim and requested notice be published (probably a bad decision — a long and and court supervised process leading to trial); or 3) no one responded to the notice of seizure, intentionally or unintentionally (because they did not receive it).

Here’s the notice:

CAFRA Notice of seizure and intent to Forfeit Detroit It shows $20,242 was seized for a failure to report. Never, ever file a claim or a petition with CBP without first consulting with a lawyer (like me) who deals with Customs seizures first. Don’t use your immigration lawyer, and don’t use an attorney who has more experience with DOJ, FBI, or DEA cases. CBP is different, and most of the time, the cash seizure is for totally different reasons.

Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

$150,000 in bulk cash wrapped in bundles pictured on the on the roof of the vehicle from which the money was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Finds and Seizes $185k in Hidden Cash

CBP seized $185,000 in smuggled currency that was heading into Mexico out of Laredo, Texas, last week, in a story reported by CBP. The story has few details, but tells us that the money was apparently not hid too well because 16 bundles of currency were found after a “non-intrusive” inspection.

What we do now is that the cash and vehicle was seized, and the two individuals in the vehicle were arrested. The rest of the story consists of “boilerplate” statements about the role of CBP in inspecting passengers, seizing currency, and the currency reporting requirement.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to work outbound inspection operations at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge seized over $185,000 in U.S. currency in a single enforcement action over the weekend.

“CBP officers not only ensure that inbound travelers and cargo comply with U.S. laws and regulations but also conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S. and protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity,” said Port Director Gregory Alvarez, Laredo Port of Entry. “This weekend’s significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing federal currency reporting requirements.”

The seizure occurred on Saturday, April 29, when a CBP officer referred a 2007 Mitsubishi Endeavor for an intensive inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 34-year-old Mexican male citizen from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and a 33-year-old Mexican male citizen as a passenger also from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. A canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers resulted in the discovery of 16 packages containing $185,020 in U.S. currency.

CBP officers seized currency and vehicle. The driver and passenger were arrested and the case was then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., however, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they will need to report it to CBP. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

If CBP seized your cash you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

Cash seized by Detroit Airport CBP: Going, going… gone?

I’ve been a busy customs lawyer recently, but most especially the last six months. Therefore, while I’ve still been trying to get each of you many readers some new stuff for the customs law blog each week, my attention has been mostly elsewhere.
And so, I’ve finally got back to keeping an eye on the weekly forfeiture notices published U.S. Customs & Border Protection each week. There was nothing interest this week for Detroit or Chicago in terms of CAFRA seizures, but last week’s notice had some unfortunate postings:
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 28, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 28, 2017
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 27, 2017
2017380700072301-001-0000, Seized on 02/08/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 217; EA; Valued at $20,719.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31CFR1010.340(A)
2017380700078501-001-0000, Seized on 02/22/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 151; EA; Valued at $13,989.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)
I cringe when I see entries like this. What in the hell happened that two people have let almost $35,000 get published for forfeiture? Both occurred at Detroit airport in February, both contain no allegations of illegal activity aside from a failure to report or a cash structuring violation, and yet…. here it is, just about as good as gone. (The only way it would be published and not as good as gone is if someone filed seized asset claim form, as opposed to some administrative option. Generally, for most people and cases, a claim is a bad idea. Despite what other self-styled “premier forfeiture litigators” may put on their websites.)
“But wait!” you say, “the deadline to file a claim is not until June 27!” That is true, but you are ineligible to file a claim if you received a notice of seizure letter. So if you just chose to do nothing in the 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice then you can’t step in and file a claim once it has been published…. that is unless you have a Really Clever Customs Lawyer.
9 bundles of United States currency

Detroit cash seizures up in FY 2017

CBP has organized itself around a fiscal year that is different from the calendar year; every October 1 begins the government’s new “fiscal year”, and so too, begins CBP’s tracking of seizure activity at its various ports of entry. In years’ past, we have reported, in particular, on Detroit’s fiscal year seizure activity. For example, in 2015 CBP in Detroit had an exceptional cash seizure year during their fiscal year 2015, seizing more than $10 million from 540 people (roughly $838,924.58 per month). After that news was published, I was anxious to see what happened in 2016; but alas, not cash seizure summary for Detroit was ever published.

But, we do have some preliminary indications that 2017 will be a ‘good year’ for CBP in terms of cash seizure. Probably not so good for travelers, though. Here is the excerpt from the CBP story:

So far this fiscal year which began October 1, ports within the Detroit Field Office have seized more than $4.4 million dollars, an 8 percent increase over the same time frame last fiscal year.

To further break this apart, if $4.4 million is over a 7 month period, then it is $628,571.42 per month, or a decrease of more than $210,000 from FY 2015. We shall see what the future holds for FY 2017. In my spare time (ha ha), I will reach out to Detroit to see where I can get my hands on the totals for 2016.

Bulk cash hidden in the vehicle panels seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes $273,005 in Smuggled Cash

CBP discovered over a quarter-million dollars hidden in the right-rear quarter-panel of a Dodge Durango that was being driven out of the United States into Mexico. The story states the driver of the vehicle was arrested for a failure declare cash over $10,000, but pretty obviously, this was more about a bulk cash smuggling offense (which is also a criminal offense).

CALEXICO, Calif. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Calexico ports of entry over the weekend intercepted $273,005 in unreported U.S. currency and discovered approximately $57,400 worth of methamphetamine in two separate smuggling attempts.

The first incident occurred on Apr. 7, at around 8 p.m., at the Calexico East port of entry, when CBP officers conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico stopped a 2001 white Dodge Durango. Officers referred the driver for a more in-depth examination.

After an intensive examination that included an alert from a currency and firearms detector dog and use of the port’s imaging system, officers discovered 11 wrapped packages containing $273,005 in U.S. currency concealed inside the right rear quarter panel of the vehicle.

The driver, a 60-year-old male and lawful permanent resident of the United States, was arrested for failure to declare monetary instruments in value of more than $10,000 and was turned over to HSI agents for further investigation.

Theoretically, if the driver of the vehicle that the $250,000 cash was hidden inside of could prove that the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use, he might be able to get some of the money back, even if he is criminally convicted. It’s not very likely, but it might be possible. The likelihood this could happen is reduced in bulk cash smuggling cases as opposed to failure to report cash cases due to the activity that is prohibited in the case of each law; in the case of failing to report cash, the prohibited activity is not reporting cash of more than $10,000. In this case of bulk cash smuggling, the prohibited activity is the concealing of cash with the intent to avoid filing the required cash report.

 

Officers at the Port of San Luis discovered two packages of unreported U.S. currency hidden within frozen packages of tortilla dough

CBP Officers Seize Cash Disguised as Dough

This article could also be called, CBP seizes “dough,” slang for cash. This seems to me to be a very clever smuggling attempt, but I don’t know much because I’m not a customs officer. I have it on very good authority that after years on the job, a good CBP officer develops a sixth sense for the presence of contraband.

In this case, a Mexican man stashed $54,000 in bags of tortilla dough that were in a cooler in the back of his van:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of San Luis arrested a Mexican national Thursday after finding unreported U.S. currency, hidden inside of tortilla dough.

Officers referred a 54-year-old Mexican man for a further search of his Honda van Thursday afternoon and found $54,000 in unreported U.S. currency within an ice chest in the rear of the van. The bags of tortilla dough were taken apart, revealing two packages of currency of varying denominations.

Officers seized all contraband and vehicle involved, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

 

CBP Seizes Guns & Money to Mexico

Guns, money, and and lawyers; the first two items are what this disjointed story from CBP is about, and the last is what the 3 people involved in this cash and firearm seizures by CBP will need. Customs seized $20,000 outbound to Mexico which resulted in an arrest, another $38,000 that probably (but not certainly resulted in an arrest), and a a cache of guns and ammo.

It reminds me of the song, “Lawyers, Guns & Money” (the Hank Williams, Jr. cover of the song is a bit more lively…. ). The total amount seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection was $58,000 cash. Anyway, here’s the story from CBP:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested two Mexican nationals Tuesday after finding unreported U.S. currency, weapons and ammunition in separate seizures.

Officers referred a 27-year-old Mexican man for a further search of his Dodge sedan Tuesday night and found more than $20,000 in unreported U.S. currency within the vehicle’s center console. This is the second unreported currency seizure this week.

On March 11, Lukeville officers prevented $38,000 from being smuggled into Mexico.

At about the same time, officers referred a 43-year-old Mexican woman for a secondary inspection of the Dodge truck she was driving. That search turned up multiple firearms and associated accessories to include several assault rifles, a handgun, multiple ammunition magazines, two weapon scopes and approximately 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

 

Stacks of bills totaling $163,130 in unreported currency seized by CBP officers at Hidalgo International Bridge

CBP Confiscates $163,130 Cash at Hidalgo Bridge

CBP officers recently seized a lot of cash — $163,130, to be exact — from a 34 year-old U.S. citizen from Yakima, Washington, who was attempting to leave the United States for Mexico in a taxi. In his baggage, CBP officers found 11 packages of cash. The money was not only not reported to customs, but it was also concealed. Here’s the full story:

On March 21, CBP officers at the Hidalgo International Bridge conducting outbound examinations encountered a 34-year-old man, a United States citizen from Yakima, Washington traveling in a taxi as he approached the exit lanes, heading towards Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. After referring the taxi passenger for further inspection, officers discovered 11 packages concealed in his luggage containing a total of $163,130 in unreported currency.

“This was a great interception by our CBP officers,” said Port Director Severiano Solis, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “We would like to remind the traveling public that if they are transporting currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 that they need to declare the currency to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. Failure to declare currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 may result in seizure and/or arrest.”

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., however, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they will need to report it to CBP. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

Again, this is not just a failure to report/declare cash, but also bulk cash smuggling. In most cases, if you’re hiding money you’re up to no good. But even if you have good intentions, the very act of hiding the money is itself illegal.

Bulk cash hidden in the vehicle panels seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes Money Going into Mexico

20 stacks of new U.S. currency seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for smuggling and failure to report cash to customs
CBP in Lukeville Arizona seized $38,000 of concealed currency heading into Mexico.

Here’s a quick story about a money seizure that happened when someone was going into Mexico earlier this week.CBP seized almost $40k in cash that was hidden in the interior panel of a van in Lukeville, Arizona. The driver was a 31 year old Mexican man. Here’s the brief story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a 31-year-old Mexican man Saturday after finding $38,000 of unreported U.S. currency concealed in a quarter panel of his Ford van.

Officers seized the money and vehicle, and turned the driver over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Every once in a while a seizure like this is not connected to the drug trade. I’ve represented people who’ve had cash seized crossing the border with Mexico who hid it in the vehicle just to keep it safe. In a case like this, even if the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use the person involved is still responsible for a bulk cash smuggling violation. The consequences of that include forfeiture (permanent loss) of all the money, fines, and jail time. The best case scenario would be no criminal charges, and a return of most of the money.

Have you had money seized going into Mexico?

If you had money seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection going into Mexico you can learn more about the process from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

$150,000 in bulk cash wrapped in bundles pictured on the on the roof of the vehicle from which the money was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seized $150,000k in Smuggled Cash in El Paso

Way down in Texas, U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized nearly $150,000 in cash that was hidden in a backpack and a purse, when a two adults and two children were attempting to leave the country.

The seizure was made shortly after 9 a.m. when a 2000 Ford Focus with two adults and two children arrived at the outbound lanes at the Ysleta port of entry. CBP officers were conducting a southbound operation at the time and selected the vehicle for an examination. During the inspection CBP officers located bundles of U.S. currency concealed in a child’s back pack. Additional bundles of currency were located in the purse of the female adult passenger.CBP officers took custody of the driver, a 31-year-old male citizen of Mexico. They also took custody of the passenger, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen female. The subjects, vehicle and currency were turned over to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office for prosecution.

The story also re-hashes, in a simple way, the law governing currency reporting requirements into or out of the United States:

“There is absolutely no limit to the amount of currency a traveler can bring into or take out of the United States,” said CBP El Paso Port Director Beverly Good. “The only requirement is travelers must report aggregate amounts that reach or exceed $10,000 to CBP. Failure to do so can result in criminal or civil penalties.”

U.S. law requires international travelers to properly report currency in their possession whether traveling into or departing from the United States.

Again, we have the mistatement of the law that there is a requirement to report “amounts that reach or exceed $10,000” when actually it only must exceed $10,000. But it is not clear if reporting the money in this border crossing scenario could have avoided the seizure of the cash, because it seems as though there was an independent basis for seizure of the money besides the bulk cash smuggling and failure to report; i.e., the money may have a illegal source or an illegal intended use.

If CBP seized your cash you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.