Category: customs cash seizure

$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

Dulles CBP Seizes $52K headed for Ghana

It is now my opinion that Dulles CBP is vying to be first in currency seizures in the nation. That is a distinction held by Detroit CBP in the 2015 fiscal year. That year, the seized cash from over 500 people.

My opinion about Dulles is based on the most recent of many stories about Dulles CBP seizing cash from unwitting (and sometimes witting..) travelers at Dulles airport in Sterling, Virginia, since only September.

This story, like those, involves a failure to report cash to Customs; in this case, though, the person involved reported $40,000 – way more than than the $10,000 – and he actually possessed slightly more than $52,000. Now, it’s still illegal to underreport cash even when you do report more than $10,000. In other words, no matter how much you carry and how much you report, the report of cash to Customs still has to be ACCURATE. Being off by $12,000 is not accuracy.

But, the story is unique in that many people will report to Customs that they are carrying $9,990, or $9,800, or $9,700, when they are really carrying more than $10,000. They think that as long as they report some number less than $10,000, they will not be scrutinized. They’re wrong.

This man, however, reported $40,000. That seems like good faith to me, and my guess is he probably did not know exactly how much he had with him (yes, it happens), and he gave it his best guess, never expecting to be held to such a strict account by U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $52,000 from a Ghana-bound U.S. citizen on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however, federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.

During an outbound inspection, the man declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that he possessed $40,000; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $52,156 on his person and in his luggage.  The officers seized the $52,156 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The traveler was then released to continue his journey.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash you need a lawyer. That’s what we do. 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.

Dulles CBP Seizes $17k in Unreported Currency from Peruvian Woman

Another week, another cash seizure at Dulles airport by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. They are really racking of the seizures — and talk about it, a lot — this year.

The meat of the story says:

The woman arrived from Peru via Colombia shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday.  During a secondary examination, the woman initially reported that she possessed $3,000, and then changed that amount to $5,000.  CBP officers discovered $15,870 in U.S. dollars, and additional Peruvian Sol equivalent to $1,189 U.S. dollars for a total of $17,059 in her purse.

The untruthful report to CBP makes it this currency seizure completely legal under the federal currency reporting regulations, which penalize any failure to report cash to U.S. Customs & Border Protection. But not only did she have her cash seized, but:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $17,000, a fraudulent permanent resident identity card and a fraudulent social security card from a 54-year-old woman at Washington Dulles International Airport on Tuesday.

But, the story goes on to say that “authorities declined criminally prosecuting the woman.” At the time currency is seized, the seizing officers (or Homeland Security Investigations, I suppose…) are required to contact the U.S. Attorney’s office and advise them of the incident to determine whether to prosecute the case criminally and arrest the individual involved in the currency reporting violations.

However, CBP did “remove[] her from the United States for possessing fraudulent U.S. identity documents and barred her from re-entering the U.S. for five years.” Ooops!

Have you had cash seized at Dulles airport by Customs?

If you had cash seized at Dulles airport by Customs, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

CBP seizes ammo and $9,995 cash, make criminal charges

Channel 4 Valley Central news picked up on a seizure of ammunition and some cash at the Hidalgo International Bridge last Wednesday. The story is noteworthy because it involves the seizure of less than $10,000…. by about $5 bucks.

Who travels with $9,995? Someone who has structured their currency transaction so that they would not have to file a currency transaction report on FinCen 105 and report their cash to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, that’s who.

And what’s wrong with traveling with $9,995 if you desire to avoid the hassle of reporting the money to CBP? Everything, because it’s against the law! That’s called unlawful cash structuring. Let’s have a look at an excerpt from the criminal complaint:

criminal-complaint-cash-ammo

It is somewhat suspicious but, his explanations have a ring of truth to it. Nevertheless, exporting ammunition from the U.S. (and thought not charged with it… structuring a cash transaction to evade the reporting requrement) is illegal, and therefore, a crime. And at the end of the day, that’s the reason he was charged; he’s not been charged with intending to use the ammo or the cash for any nefarious purpose (even if CBP believes that he did so intend).

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Officers seized more than 400 rounds of ammunition and $9,995 at the Hidalgo bridge on Wednesday.

Espinoza “provided CBPOs with a negative declaration for currency, weapons and ammunition,” according to the criminal complaint.Officers search Espinoza’s vehicle and found $9,995 cash — $6,620 underneath a battery cover inside the engine and $3,375 stuffed in an envelope, according to the criminal complaint.

They also found 400 rounds of ammunition.

“Espinoza claimed the U.S. currency was meant to purchase vehicles from a local auto auction company in the McAllen, Texas area, but he did not purchase the vehicles,” according to the criminal complaint. “He stated that he hid the U.S. currency in the engine compartment to conceal it from Mexican Customs officials and the cartel because they would take it from him if they knew he had it.”

Has your cash been seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection?

If CBP seized cash from, learn more about what your options are from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide; and can take advantage of the free currency seizure consultation we offer by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Picture of what the cash seized at Dulles airport looked similar to.

Dulles Customs Seizes $113k from 5 People

Dulles airport is a new hotbed for CBP cash seizures. And based on the volume of stories coming out from CBP about currency seizures they’ve conducted, they love to talk about. In fact, in the last 2 weeks CBP seized money from 5 different groups of people for “intentionally” violating the federal currency reporting regulations.

It’s curious that CBP should state that the law was “intentionally” violated, as intent has nothing to do with whether the law was broken (at least, in CBP’s interpretation of the law). The only thing that is require for a violation of the cash reporting law is a knowing transportation or more than $10,000 into or out of the country, not a knowing violation of the reporting requirement. It is, in the legal world, called a “bright line” rule. In other words, if you leave or enter the country with more than $10,000 and you do not report it, it does not matter why you did not report it, you’ve broken the law by the very transportation of the money itself.

Here is the whole story concerning the 5 recent seizures at Dulles, as told by CBP:

A handful of international travelers learned of the value of truthfully reporting all currency they possessed to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport recently. That value came to about $113,000 in seized currency.

CBP officers seized a total of $112,819 during five seizures over the last 10 days for violating federal currency reporting requirements.  These currency seizures included:

  • $36,639 from a family departing Washington Dulles for Laos on October 25;
  • $14,221 from a woman departing to South Korea on October 24;
  • $22,034 from man who arriving from Ghana on October 22;
  • $17,946 from a man and woman departing to El Salvador on October 18; and
  • $21,979 from a man departing to Belgium.

In each incident, CBP officers allowed the travelers multiple opportunities to be truthful, and to read, understand and acknowledge the currency reporting law before officers inspected the travelers. In each incident, CBP officers found additional currency above what the travelers repeatedly claimed they possessed.

As customs stated, the total of these seizures exceeded the $73,900 that CBP officers seized from Serbian bound man on October 3. What’s up, Dulles CBP? Have your currency seizure reporting priorities just kicked up a few notches?

10 bundles of cash totaling more than $90,000 laid out on top of a black plastic as seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Laredo, Texas, after a secondary examination.

CBP seizes $91,000 in secondary examination

Another day, another dollar… seized. In Laredo, Texas, the Texas-Mexico border town, U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized about $90,000 from a 30 year old Mexican national heading back to Mexico.

October 1 begins the government’s new fiscal year, and this story of unreported cash being seized by CBP is likely one of the first of many for CBP Laredo of 2017. As you’ll note in the story, a “secondary examination” of the vehicle turned up hidden packages of “unreported cash” — that is, truly a bulk cash smuggling offense, even if still a failure to report. A secondary examination, or intensive examination, usually involves the dismantling of the vehicle in search of contraband; the removing of body panels, an undercarriage inspection, etc. It can be very destructive, as can be seen in the following video:

But, on to the story as reported by CBP:

The interception occurred on Friday, Oct. 21 while CBP officers and agents conducting outbound (southbound) inspections at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge referred a 2013 Toyota Prius driven by a 30-year-old male Mexican citizen for a secondary inspection.  CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of the vehicle and discovered packages hidden within the vehicle that contained $91,708 in unreported currency.

CBP officers seized the currency and the vehicle. CBP officers arrested the driver and turned him over to Homeland Security Investigations (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, traveler’s 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.

Did CBP take your money?

If CBP took your money, 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.
$3,700 in counterfeit cash seized by CBP from an Argentinian woman laid out on a metal table presented by a CBP officer

CBP at DFW Airport Seizes Counterfeit Cash

When is a custom seizure of $3,700 news? When the money is counterfeit. Here’s an interesting story from CBP about some fake $100 bills headed for Salt Lake City, Utah, from Argentina from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The woman’s punishment for possessing the counterfeit cash? Seizure of the money by CBP and expedited removal (that is, instant deportation) to Argentina, and very likely revocation of any visa and future inadmissibility to the United States. CBP seizes not only unreported, smuggled, and structured cash for violation of the federal currency reporting regulations, but also counterfeit cash. We’ve wrote about previous efforts to import counterfeit cash that resulted in CBP seizures in the past: like Hell money imported into Detroit from Vietnam, and counterfeit checks seized in Chicago, and then the counterfeit cash seized in Detroit, and over $120,000 in counterfeit cash seized at JFK, and many, many more instances you can find by searching this customs law blog.

Here’s the full story from CBP:

DALLAS — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport intercepted 37 counterfeit $100 dollar bills that were being transported by an Argentinean woman.

The passenger was attempting to make entry to the United States as a tourist and in her possession were the $100 dollars bills wrapped in cellophane.

Early Monday morning, an Argentinean female passenger arrived at DFW seeking entry as a tourist with her final destination salted [sic] for Salt Lake City, Utah. Upon her arrival, CBP officers selected the passenger for a secondary inspection. During a secondary inspection of her belongings, a stack of $100 dollar bills was found wrapped in cellophane. When unwrapped, the bills produced a strong, uncommon, chemical odor. At first glance the currency appeared legitimate however, a closer look revealed the absence of fine-line detail and intaglio printing, printing technics [sic] associated with U.S. currency.

“This interception of counterfeit currency, that would have made its way into the U.S. commerce, is indicative of the commitment and attention to detail our officers pay on a daily basis,” said O’Ruill McCanlas, Acting Area Port Director, Area Port of Dallas. “Had this currency been introduced into our economy, someone down the line would have unknowingly exchanged this counterfeit money, tried to use it or even gifted it to someone else.  We will take every opportunity to intercept this type of transnational criminal activity.”

After further examination of the currency, the 37 $100 dollar bills were seized and turned over to United States Secret Service (USSS).

The passenger was taken into custody by CBP and after further investigation the passenger was processed for Expedited Removal and returned to Argentina.

Did Detroit CBP seize cash from you?

If CBP seized cash from you Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, you can learn more from our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

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

Structured Cash Seized by CBP Detroit

Last week, CBP posted another round of notices of seizure and intents to forfeit on their website, forfeiture.gov. Among the many thousands of items seized and subject to forfeiture is $19,300, in cash seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan, on August 23, 2016.

Like all notices on forfeiture.gov, it is sparse on detail; but, we do know that it was seized for both a failure to report and unlawful cash structuring, which likely means that more than 1 person was traveling with the money; or that CBP took two family members or traveling companions, pulled them aside, found that each was traveling with slightly less than $10,000, and grouped the amounts together and is accusing one person of giving the money to another so as to avoid filing the currency transaction report on Form FinCen105.

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: October 14, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: November 13, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: December 13, 2016

DETROIT, MI

2016380700111101-001-0000, Seized on 08/23/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 247; EA; Valued at $19,300.00; For violation of  31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)

The reason the notice of seizure was published on the website is because either the recipient decided to abandon the money, did not receive the personal CAFRA notice of seizure letter, or messed up the petition (unlikely in the span of 7 weeks since the seizure occurred). Don’t make that same mistake, and hire a customs lawyer for any cash, money, or monetary instrument seizure you experienced at the hands of U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

Have you had structured cash seized by CBP Detroit?

If you had structured cash seized by CBP Detroit, 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.

A picture of CBP canine who discovered unreported cash that was seized by CBP at Dulles Airport in front of the table of cash emblazoned with CBP logo.

Dog Detects Federal Currency Reporting Violations at Dulles Airport

U.S. Customs & Border Protection uses canines to assist its law enforcement functions. When most people think of police dogs, they think of their use in detecting drugs; but they can also be used to find the presence of unreported cash.

And that is the subject of a recent story from CBP in Dulles airport when they seized nearly $75,000 from two men bound for Serbia (also apparently involved in unlawful cash structuring).

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a total of $73,900 from two Serbia-bound travelers for violating federal currency reporting requirements on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Neither man was criminally charged. CBP officers released the travelers to continue their journey.

CBP officers initially stopped the first man in the jetway to the airplane and asked how much currency he possessed.  The man reported $1,500 verbally and in writing.  CBP officers inspected his carry-on baggage and jacket and discovered four envelopes that contained approximately $50,000.

Meanwhile, CBP’s currency detector dog “Nicky” alerted to another passenger, who then claimed to be the first subject’s son-in-law.  The second man reported that he possessed $7,000, but a subsequent inspection discovered two envelopes in his jacket that contained approximately $20,000.

CBP officers verified that the currency totaled $73,900 in U.S. dollars between the two family members.

In this case, the violations of the federal currency reporting laws did not lead to criminal charges, but theoretically they could be charged within 5 years due to the statute of limitations period. But as always, federal currency reporting laws mean that, even when not criminally charged, asset forfeiture of the cash by customs will still occur. In this case, CBP seized almost all of the money. To get it back, these men will have to show that the money has no nexus to illegal activity and, even if they can do that, they will still likely face a loss of at least 50% of the money; CBP’s guidelines for structuring and bulk cash smuggling are far more stringent than their guidelines for a failure to report.

The Loudon Times-Mirror reported on the same story, and added that the dog, Nicky, is a Malinois dog, and that CBP returned $1,500 to the men and released them to continue their trip, which is generally called a “humanitarian release” by CBP.

Have you violated the federal currency reporting regulations?

If you violated the federal currency reporting regulations, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Violation of Federal Currency Reporting Regulations at BWI

Baltimore Washington International Airport, to the best of my knowledge, does not have a high rate of enforcement in cash seizures by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. But, every once in a while the port touts their enforcement efforts in connection with this important area of law – the federal currency reporting regulations.

What follow is such a story, from a couple traveling to Nigeria with almost $35,000 in cash. According to the story, the couple violated “federal currency reporting regulations” which can mean they broke any number of laws such as a failure to report cash to customs, bulk cash smuggling, or unlawful structuring.

It is likely that this is a cash structuring offense because it involves a couple. For example, the husband could have given the wife $10,000 to carry that he (incorrectly) believed she would not have to report because it was not “more than” $10,000.

If he did that, however, this would be unlawful structuring and, by the very commission of unlawful structuring, also a failure to report.

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport seized $34,030 Saturday from a Nigerian couple for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The two travelers, who arrived on a flight from the United Kingdom reported carrying $8,000 to CBP officers however; multiple envelopes of currency totaling $34,030 were discovered in their bags. CBP officers seized the $34,030 returning $1,030 for humanitarian release and advised them how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

Have you violated the federal currency reporting regulations?

If you violated the federal currency reporting regulations, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

A picture of nearly $70,000 in cash laid out on the body of pick-up truck seized by CBP (U.S. Customs & Border Protection).

CBP officers seize bulk $68,422 smuggled to Mexico

CBP seized about $70,000 from two U.S. citizens who were heading into Mexcio in what must be drug money being returned to Mexico. The story, related by CBP in a news release, and also in the El Paso Times, involves the concealment of the U.S. currency inside the dashboard of pick-up truck.

From the looks of the picture, though, you’d swear it was hidden in the rocker panels. No matter where the cash was hidden prior to discovery by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, any time money is concealed with the intent of not reporting is bulk cash smuggling; like the failure to report and illegal structuring, bulk cash smuggling is a crime punishable by heavy fines, forfeiture (permanent loss) of money, and jail time.

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $68,422 Thursday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden within the front dashboard of the vehicle. Two U.S. citizens were arrested.

CBP officers were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 3:30 p.m. a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up approached the checkpoint. The driver and vehicle were selected for an intensive inspection. During the x-ray inspection of the vehicle the officers noticed anomalies within the front dashboard area. Further inspection of the dashboard revealed currency bundles wrapped in black tape hidden within.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle. The driver, 35 year-old [redacted] of Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila, Mexico and her passenger, 30 year-old [redacted] of Fort Stockton, Texas, were arrested and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

So though both those involved are U.S. citizens, apparently one of them resides in Mexico. I’ve redacted the names because I have absolutely no interest in publicly shaming anyone for whom I have no proof of guilt other than mere arrest.

Were you caught bulk smuggling cash by CBP?

If you were caught bulk smuggling cash by CBP, we can help your get your money back from U.S. Customs & Border Protection and avoid forfeiture.  Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page, or requesting a call back.