A copy of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit featuring the case of the incomplete check seized by CBP

Detroit CBP Forfeits Seized Cash by Notices

There have not been many news releases by CBP about cash seizures, but just because it’s not hitting the news doesn’t mean anything has changed. For example, CBP in Detroit is still seizing cash at Detroit Metro Airport (and of course, to a lesser extent, the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel). To get a glimpse of their activity, we can look to the notices of seizure and intent to forfeit postings that the government is required to make on the foreiture.gov website.

Once CBP takes money, there are several ways to try to get it back. Most of these are shown on the election of proceedings form. If they can’t successfully get the money back, or they choose to file a claim, the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit is published.

From mid-December until now, here are all the cases where money was seized and the notice has been published, along with my comments on each case:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: January 12, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: February 11, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: March 13, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2018380700037501-001-0000, Seized on 01/05/2018; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 323; EA; Valued at $31,261.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317

Above, the cash was seized at Detroit Metro on 1/5, and the posting was made on January 12. Typically, CBP sends out a notice of seizure letter to those with a known interest in the money and then, if not responded to within 35 days, the notice gets published online. So this short period of time between seizure and publication only makes sense to me if the person who had their money seized abandoned the cash or, immediately they filed a claim.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: January 05, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: February 04, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: March 06, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2017380700124801-001-0000, Seized on 05/26/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 263; EA; Valued at $26,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Above is a more expected situation, where the money was seized in May 2017 (for failure to report and for structuring), but the first publication of the intent to forfeit was not until January. This tells me that it is very likely that the administrative resolution was unsuccessful (e.g., they filed an administrative petition and it was unsuccessful). That usually means a bad lawyer, no lawyer, or insufficient documentation showing legitimate source and use of the seized cash. Some people give up at this point, which is usually a poor decision. You’ve got to keep trying and file a claim, but you’ll meet with the same fate unless you get an experienced attorney.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: December 29, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: January 28, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 27, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2017380700064601-001-0000, Seized on 01/25/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 250; EA; Valued at $25,000.00; For violation of 19USC1607, 19USC162.45, 19USC983(A)(2)

The also looks like the administrative options failed. But this one puzzles me another reason, because the reasons listed for seizure don’t appear to be right. All of the law or regulations cited there are for the summary forfeiture statute, which only describes the process used for forfeiting property that is valued at less than $500,000. In other words, those laws do not describe a crime but instead just direct the government to publish notice in a certain way. It looks like someone at CBP sent the wrong information in for publishing.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: December 15, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: January 14, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 13, 2018

DETROIT, MI
2018380100011101-001-0000, Seized on 11/09/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY; 878; EA; Valued at $20,106.00; For violation of 18USC981(A)(1)(C), 18USC1956(C)(7)(A), 18USC1961(1)(D),21USC841,21USC881,, 21USC846

2018380700026301-001-0000, Seized on 12/01/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 520; EA; Valued at $48,293.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5332

Finally, the first of the two listed here was seized not for a failure to report the cash, but instead because the money was suspected to be involved in some illegal activity. The case number tells me that this occurred at one of the land border crossings in Detroit, where such a situation is more likely to occur than at the Detroit Metro Airport.

The final case shows the money was seized on December 1, and the notice was published on December 15. That tells me that the person, rather than electing administrative proceedings, chose to file a claim and set their case up for decision by a judge. Typically, that’s a bad idea; it’s usually better to give administrative remedies a chance first, but not always. It could be someone made this decision without a lawyer, or hired a lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Is Detroit CBP forfeiting your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized and is forfeiting your cash, you need a lawyer. Read 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.
WPM Mark

Regulated Wood Packaging Material (WPM) and Penalties

Nearly 5 years ago, we blogged about Regulated Wood Packaging Material (WPM) violations, and the trouble it can get importers into. You can read all about that in Regulated Wood Packaging Material Customs Violations. CBP’s page with links to various WPM resources is accessible on CBP’s website HERE.

But, now something has changed. Pursuant to the old CBP guidelines, an importer could have 5 WPM violations in one year before they were penalized. However, as of November 1, 2017, and importer is liable for a penalty in the first instance of a WPM violation.

The new frequently asked questions published by CBP and summarize the change thus “Effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty. This is a change from the previous published tolerance of five WPM violations.”

This change was initially broadcast through customs Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS #17-000612). That message states the reason for the change in enforcement as follows:

To motivate WPM compliance, effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with a documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty under Title 19 United States Code (USC) § 1595a(b) or under 19 USC § 1592.  This is a change from the previous published threshold of 5 violations.  There will be no yearly reset for calculating repeat violations as each WPM violation may incur a penalty.

So, importers: be motivated.

Can an application to separate violative wood packaging material still be filed?

Yes, the new guidelines still permit importer’s to file an application to separate violative wood packaging material to avoid re-importation of the merchandise.

If you have been informed that you wood packaging material is in violation of the law and needs to be re-exported, immediately contact us and we can prepare an application to separate violative wood packaging material so that, if it is granted, you do not have to undergo the time and expense of re-exporting the merchandise you are trying to import.

Can WPM penalties be mitigated?

Yes, WPM penalties can be mitigated. Never pay full price in a penalty proceeding! If you have received a notice of penalty or liquidated damages and are being told you must pay as a result of the violation, immediately call or e-mail our office at (734) 855-4999 and we can prepare a petition for mitigation of the penalty amount.

Stacks of cash that Houston CBP seized from travelers leaving the country

Houston CBP Seizes $100K Cash from Travelers

It’s been almost a year since CBP reported on Houston airport cash seizures (the last story is here), even though CBP taking cash at Houston airport is pretty common. As with all CBP money seizures, the money is most typically taken by CBP for a failure to report it, structuring it, or smuggling it. In this story, a couple was carrying $110,204 to Taiwan — but only reported $50,000. Here’s the full article:

HOUSTON – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at George Bush Intercontinental Airport seized over $100,000 Dec.7 after travelers made repeated inaccurate reports about the amount of money they were carrying.

“International travelers can carry an unlimited amount of money traveling into or departing from the U.S., but are required to report currency over $10,000,” said Houston CBP Acting Port Director Steven Scofield. “Those who refuse to comply with the federal reporting requirements face the risk of having the currency seized.”

Two passengers, both U.S. citizens, traveling from Houston to Taiwan were selected for a baggage inspection. The travelers were given multiple opportunities to truthfully declare the amount of money they were carrying. The couple reported carrying just over $50,000, however, CBP officers found $110, 204 in the travelers’ respective wallet, purse, backpack and jacket.

The currency was seized by CBP as the travelers failed to properly report the money as required by U.S. law. The travelers were released to continue on with their travels.

Too bad, and so sad. This cash seizure could have been complete avoided by properly reporting the cash to customs before (or even at the time of) departure.

Was your money seized at Houston airport?

If you’ve had money seized at Houston airport by CBP you can learn more 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.

A picture of seized cash in an evidence bag from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Baltimore CBP Seizes $16k in Unreported Cash

Back in October, I blogged about a cash seizure in Baltimore and said that the port of Baltimore doesn’t make it into the news too much for cash seizures. Of course, because I posted that about a month later there is a report of another cash seizure coming out of Baltimore for a failure to accurately report all money to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when leaving the United States.

Here is the full story (original here):

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $16,100 from a Nigerian man at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Monday.

The man, who CBP has not named because he was not criminally charged, initially reported to officers that he possessed $1,500.  During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered a $10,000 stack of currency and a $6,100 stack of currency.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

“The United States is a welcoming nation.  All we ask is that visitors respect our nation’s laws and truthfully report all currency they possess during an inspection with a Customs and Border Protection officer,” said Dianna Bowman, CBP Area Port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore.

Have you had cash seized from CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport?

If CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport has seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read 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.

 

An image of cash seized by Customs at Dulles airport while traveling to Ghana

Dulles CBP Seizes $40k Cash Unreported

Dulles continues to be the leading source for news-releases pertaining to cash seizures for more than $10,000 for failure to report to Customs, or bulk cash smuggling, and the related offenses under Title 31 of the United States Code. In this particular story (original here), Customs seized $40,000 from a man who reported traveling with $25,000.

Upon making that report he completed a FinCEN 105 form (probably under some duress) for that same amount. At this point (as they always do), CBP conducted a complete search of his person and baggage to determine if he was telling the truth. As is frequently the case, he was not. In fact, they discovered another $10,000 in a white envelope and another $5,400 in some other places. Here is the full story:

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $40,900 from a man boarding a flight to Ghana last Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The man, who CBP has not named because he was not criminally charged, initially reported to officers that he possessed $500.  After officers advised the man of U.S. currency reporting regulations, the man presented three white envelopes that contained $25,000, and reported that much on a financial reporting form.

CBP officers then discovered a manila envelope with $10,000, an additional white envelope in the man’s backpack that contained $5,000, and $400 more in his wallet.  The combined currency equaled $40,900.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should 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.

CBP Atlanta Seizes over $500k in Counterfeit Cash

There could have been a big cash seizure in Atlanta by CBP, if only the cash was not counterfeit. CBP Atlanta released some news about this very large would-be-cash-seizure, that happened on Halloween.  The man who tried to bring it in was a U.S. citizen return from Peru. All the money was hidden, and it was confirmed counterfeit by the United States Secret Service.

It was Halloween however, alert U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at Hartsfield -Jackson Atlanta International Airport couldn’t be tricked by a man attempting to smuggle half a million dollars in counterfeit U.S. currency. CBP officer’s Tuesday, intercepted the 62-year old U.S. Citizen arriving from Peru who had attempted to hide $509,700 in counterfeit U.S. $100 bills in his baggage.

“This seizure demonstrates how U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s border search authority protects American businesses and consumers against counterfeit currency and other illicit products that pose potential harm to our nation and to our economy.” said Carey Davis, CBP’s Port Director for the Area Port of Atlanta. “This is our Border Security work at its finest, and we are proud of the officers involved.”

Agents from the U.S. Secret Service arrived and confirmed that the $100 bills were counterfeit. Secret Service agents took custody of the fake currency and individual. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia is prosecuting.

Has Atlanta CBP seized your cash?

If Atlanta CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should 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.

Texas CBP seized cash. A picture of 19 stacks of $20 and $100 bills part of the cash seized by CBP at Hidalgo International Bridge

Officers seize more than $500,000 at Hidalgo Port of Entry

Here’s a story that — to my knowledge — didn’t hit the CBP news release system, but ended up being reported by a news station local to Hidalgo, Texas, about the seizure of more than half-million dollars cash that was hidden in an unassuming vehicle heading to Mexico.

In this story, someone was criminally charged (name redacted here, it’s none of my business to further publicize anyone’s name); he stated to police Homeland Security agents that he was paid $1,000 to try to move the cash to Mexico:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than $500,000 at the Hidalgo Port of Entry on Wednesday, according to a federal criminal complaint. At about 10:15 p.m., officers referred a black 2013 Nissan to secondary inspection. During a search of the Nissan, officers found 32 vacuum-sealed packages and 28 loose bundles of U.S. currency hidden behind the rear seat, totaling $532, 255.
During questioning with Homeland Security Investigations agents, the driver of the vehicle, [redacted], said he would have been paid $1,000 after transporting the currency into Mexico.
[He] was charged with intentionally concealing currency with the intent to transport outside the U.S. [His] attorney wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday.

Have you had cash seized by CBP?

If you’ve had cash seized CBP in Hidalgo, 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.

Dulles Does it Again: CBP Seizes $42k in Cash to Ghana

Dulles CBP seized $42,000 in cash from a man going to Ghana. As the story (original here) below explains, the man only reported $8,000 verbally; then he wrote down $15,000 on his FinCEN 105 form; then, they brought the dogs out. When the dogs were done, they found a total of $42,606 and €240.

Although bulk cash smuggling and failing to report currency are both crimes, not everyone is criminally charged. A person still faces civil forfeiture of the cash involved in the violation, even if not criminally charged. In this case, it was a catch and release; they caught him, seized the money, and released him to continue on his trip. He will be able to get at least some of the money back if he can show it came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use. Here’s the story, with pictures:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $42,000 from a man boarding a flight to Ghana Tuesday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

CBP officers seized $42k from Ghana-bound man
November 7, 2017 at Washington Dulles
International Airport

The man, who CBP has not named because he was not criminally charged, initially reported to officers that he possessed $8,000.  After officers advised the man of U.S. currency reporting regulations, the man wrote that he possessed $15,000 and he completed a financial reporting form.

A CBP currency detector dog then alerted to bulk currency in the man’s carry-on baggage.  The man then produced $2,480 in U.S. currency and 240 Euros from his jacket, $10,216 from his backpack, and $710 from his front pants pocket.

CBP officers then discovered a package that contained $8,000, an envelope that contained $8,000, and an additional $13,200 inside a pouch, all concealed inside his backpack.  The total amount of currency the man possessed equaled $42,606 in U.S. dollars and 240 Euros.

Following the currency seizure, CBP officers returned $406 in U.S. currency and 240 Euros to the man and released him to continue his journey.

This is the second significant currency seizure from a Ghana-bound traveler in two months.  On September 23, CBP officers seized $150,228 in unreported currency at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should 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.

 

CBP Takes $90k in Cash Outbound to Mexico

CBP officers took over $90,000 cash in a seizure action in Laredo, Texas, of money heading into Mexico from the United States. Here is just an excerpt of story from CBP:

The . . . seizure occurred on Wednesday, Sep. 20 at the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge when a CBP officer conducting outbound examinations referred a 2008 Buick Enclave for an intensive inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 42-year-old male Mexican citizen. A canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers resulted in the discovery of 19 packages containing $90,367 in unreported U.S. currency.

CBP officers are very good at detecting who might be smuggling contraband into or out of the country. These days, they rely heavily on technology, but many seizures occur just by using intuition and common sense.

Has Laredo CBP taken your cash?

If CBP in Laredo has seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read 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.

Texas CBP seized cash. A picture of 19 stacks of $20 and $100 bills part of the cash seized by CBP at Hidalgo International Bridge

CBP Texas Discovers $300k in Hidden Cash

Here is a tale from CBP of over a quarter-million dollars, unreported cash, seized by U.S. Customs officers at the Hidalgo bridge. He was arrested, which is not surprising. Although it does not say specifically how the money was hidden with the car he was driving, it does say that it was “concealed“.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) at the Hidalgo International Bridge arrested a man from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico after the discovery of more than $300,000 in unreported currency concealed within the vehicle he was driving.

“I applaud our CBP officers for this outstanding discovery,” said Deputy Port Director Donna Sifford, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “Enforcing federal currency reporting requirements is part of our CBP mission.”

On Sept. 28, CBP officers at the Hidalgo International Bridge conducting outbound examinations referred a vehicle for inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 43-year-old man, a Mexican citizen from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. After a physical inspection of the vehicle, the use of a non-intrusive imaging system inspection (NII), officers discovered over $300,000 in unreported currency.

CBP OFO seized the currency and arrested the man, who was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents for further investigation.

Has Texas CBP seized cash from you?

If Texas CBP seized cash from 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.