$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP at Dulles Airport seizes $50k Cash Leaving Country

Dulles CBP has made a few notable seizures recently. Dulles cash seizures always seem to hit the CBP news release cycle, and last week was no exception. CBP reported on the seizure of almost fifty-grand in cash from travelers leaving the United States, so here is the story:

CBP officers seized $29,698 from a Qatar-bound family Saturday.  Officers explained the currency reporting regulations to the family and the father reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $14,000.  The man presented an envelope that contained $10,000 and $4,000 in pocket cash.  CBP officers then asked if he possessed additional currency, to which the man presented an additional $5,698.  An examination of the wife’s purse resulted in the discovery of an additional $10,000.  CBP officers returned $698 to the family and released them to continue their journey.

CBP officers seized $18,900 from a Ghana-bound man Tuesday.  The traveler reported verbally and in writing that he possessed $12,000.  During an examination, CBP officers discovered the additional cash.  Officers returned $500 to the traveler for humanitarian purposes and released him to continue his journey.

The original story says that everyone was a U.S. citizen, and non were criminally charged. In my experience, Dulles will likely say that both of these cases involved bulk cash smuggling, and therefore, they are able to keep at least 50% of the money that was seized according to CBP’s mitigation guidelines.

This Dulles cash seizure should also serve as a reminder to everyone that a report is required even when LEAVING the country, not just upon arrival. If you look closely, you’ll probably see signs in the airport containing notices about the reporting requirement.

Piles of cash seized by CBP officers at Philadelphia airport.

$93k Seized by Philly CBP

I’ve had limited time to blog about customs law lately, but there was a large currency seizure out of Philadelphia reported about 2 weeks ago. At $93,000, it is among the largest of the run-of-the-mill failure to report/bulk cash smuggling cases that I’ve seen at the nation’s airport.

Usually, these types of seizures are typically between $10,000 and $40,000, but sometimes larger; therefore, moving $93,000 out of the country likely took customs officers seizing the cash at the airport by surprise.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $93,000 from a Qatar-bound family for violating federal currency reporting regulations Tuesday at Philadelphia International Airport.

CBP officers conducted an inspection on departing international passengers and encountered a man, his wife and their five children.  Officers explained the currency reporting regulations to the family and the father reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $12,000.  During the inspection, CBP officers discovered a combined $93,393 concealed on the man’s, the woman’s, and their adult child’s bodies.  CBP officers seized the currency.

CBP officers returned $3,393 to the family and released them to continue their journey.

So this airport seizure involved 7 people — a husband, wife, and 5 children. The phrase “concealed on . . . their . . . bodies” does not bode well for this family. Recall, the consequences a failure to report are less than when the offense involves bulk cash smuggling (i.e., concealing the cash with the intent of avoiding the currency report).

Has Philly CBP seized your cash?

If Philly CBP seized your cash, 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.



A picture of a CBP officer watching travelers at an airport. CBP Officers at Philadelphia International Airport seized $26,000 from a couple going to Greece for a failure to report the cash

Philly CBP Seizes $39k Cash Outbound to Jamaica

Here’s a great story out of Philadelphia, where close to $40,000 was seized from a person traveling to Jamaica. CBP in Philadelphia has a good writer; their cash seizures stories are always the most informative or interesting.

In this case, the women whose cash was seized first reported not having more than $10,000; then changed it to $20,000; ultimately, she was found with almost $40,000. Read it for yourself:

PHILADELPHIA — Federal currency reporting requirements are simple.  International travelers can carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States, but they 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 consequences for violating federal currency reporting requirements are severe:  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers may seize the currency, and officers may criminally charge the violator.

Yet, travelers continue to conceal currency or remain less than truthful during CBP inspections.

A Jamaica-bound traveler departing Philadelphia International Airport Thursday learned this lesson the hard way when CBP officers seized $39,225 that she possessed.  The traveler initially reported that she possessed less than $10,000.  After CBP officers thoroughly explained the currency reporting requirements, she wrote down that she possessed $20,000.  A CBP inspection revealed $39,225.

“This currency seizure illustrates the importance and consequences of travelers complying with all U.S. laws, including currency reporting regulations,” said Shawn Polley, Acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.  “The best way to keep all of your currency is to honestly report it all to a to Customs and Border Protection officers during inspection.”

The traveler was not criminally charged and was allowed to continue her journey to Jamaica.


The story ends with the statement that “[o]n a typical day, CBP seizes $289,609 in undeclared or illicit currency along our nation’s borders.” That’s a lot of cash to get seized!

Have you had cash seized by CBP?

If you had cash seized by CBP, 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.

A picture of bulk cash from behind the stereo in the dashboard in a bulk cash smuggling seizure CBP officers removed

CBP Officers Discover $190,000 in Radio

Question: When is a 9 year old Ford Fusion worth more than $7,000? Answer: When there is $190,000 in cash hidden behind the radio. As is always the case with the stories about Customs taking cash at the border with Mexico, this really is not just a “failure to report” but really “bulk cash smuggling.”

The intent to not report the cash can be strongly inferred from its presence behind the radio and the individuals failure to report it. The only way he might not be responsible for the bulk cash smuggling and failure to report crimes is if he did not know the money was there. For example, if he just bought the car and the previous owner preferred to keep his cash in the dashboard of his car instead of a bank account.

Here’s the story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Nogales on June 9 arrested a male Mexican national for failing to report more than $190,000 in U.S. currency bound for Mexico.

Officers working at the Mariposa crossing Friday afternoon referred a 23-year-old driver of a 2008 Ford Fusion for a search of his vehicle before allowing it to cross into Mexico. During the search, officers discovered 24 packages of U.S. currency hidden behind the vehicle’s radio.

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

Let this be a lesson to anyone who is considering keeping their savings in their dashboards. If you forget to remove it or report it to Customs before your cross the border, you may get the money seized by Customs!

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.

Stacks of bills totaling $16,152 in unreported currency seized by CBP officers at Eagle Pass Port of Entry.

CBP Catches Cash Smuggler Red-Handed

The link between smuggling cash and smuggling drugs across the border is not always apparent. In fact, the currency reporting requirement was enacted to trace money entering and leaving the country that has some illegal connection, such as illegal drugs, illegal weapons, tax evasion, etc. This is why there is no penalty or tax for carrying cash across the border provided that the report is actually filed.

The connection between cash is often not obvious. Many times, especially with the larger movements of cash, the criminals are sure to move only cash, or only drugs, and thereby mitigate against the risk of seizure of both the product and the profits. However, in the story below, both drugs and cash were found and seized by CBP, making the connection to illegal activity obvious:

CBP officers at the Eagle Pass International Bridge on April 15 inspected a 1999 Ford Mustang, driven by a 30-year-old man from Lamar, Colorado, during outbound operations. After further inspection, officers found $16,152 unreported U.S. currency in a bag concealed under the passenger seat of the vehicle. Officers also found 5.5 grams of alleged cocaine in a plastic bag, 6.4 grams of alleged crystal methamphetamine in a plastic bag, 5.3 grams of alleged cocaine in a plastic bag, 17.3 grams of alleged cocaine in 54 capsules and 1.5 pills of Oxycodone. The driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations special agents for further investigations. CBP officers seized the vehicle, narcotics and the unreported U.S. currency.

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.

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:
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.