Tag: cash seizure

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.

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?

A picture of nearly $150,000 in cash seized by CBP laid out on a table

Seizures of undeclared cash from Chinese nationals on the rise

In “Seizures of undeclared cash spike at Vancouver International Airport“, reporters for The Globe & Mail did a lot of good reporting work and present interesting information on customs cash seizures from Chinese nationals occurring in Canada.

For instance, in the past 3 years customs seized $13 million dollars from 792 Chinese nationals passing through the airport. The average seizure was $17,000. The substance of the article is that these people are bringing the money into the country to get it out of China’s economy (which they fear may crash), to buy homes and/or invest in real estate. This has artificially inflated the property values in cities like Vancouver, and the government there imposed a tax on foreign purchasers of real estate to cool the market. We’ve previously blogged about this in Cash From China Seized Due to Capital Controls and Why some Chinese travel with cash leading to airport seizures.

If you’re interested in customs cash seizures, you should definitely check out the entire article. However, I’ll quote what I find most interesting below:

As Vancouver’s housing market began sizzling, border guards at the nearby international airport were seizing millions of dollars in undeclared cash from Chinese citizens, with total amounts jumping 50 per cent in each of the past three calendar years, government data show.

According to the information, released to The Globe and Mail by a New Democrat MLA, during that period, border guards confiscated more than $13-million in hidden currency from 792 Chinese people passing through Vancouver International Airport, which is Canada’s second-busiest after Toronto. The average person had $17,000 in hidden bills, bank notes or drafts.

That is in addition to the $323-million declared at the airport by 20,000 Chinese citizens or passengers on flights to and from that country, during roughly the same period, according to data released to The Globe through a freedom of information request.

Experts say these sums of hidden and declared money, which dwarf the funds brought through the airport from other countries, were likely carried by some of the 922,000 people from China recently given 10-year temporary visas, which allow them to visit for up to six months at a time.

Former RCMP investigator and financial crimes specialist Kim Marsh said many travellers bring large amounts of money – or bank notes or drafts – instead of transferring them through institutional routes because they want to avoid paying taxes in Canada and get around Chinese currency laws that make it illegal for the average citizen to take more than $50,000 (U.S.) a year out of that country.

[ . . . ]

Daniel Kiselbach, a Vancouver-based tax litigator, said the vast majority of Chinese citizens bringing large amounts of cash into B.C. are “just trying to get along in life and they have legitimate reasons for having the money in their possession,” such as buying gifts for family members or paying for living expenses at university.

He said that these visitors have many disincentives to report their assets to the Chinese government and are likely just as suspicious of how information on their finances will be handled in Canada.

“Maybe that would get back to the Chinese government, I don’t know,” Mr. Kiselbach said.

Two years ago, Mr. Kiselbach tried to get Ottawa to divulge whether it has an agreement to share such information with China, as it does with the United States and other Commonwealth countries. Canada Border Services Agency does not make these agreements public, he said.

Vancouver MLA David Eby, housing critic for the opposition New Democrats, said he is concerned that the amount of cash seized from Chinese citizens at YVR rose from $2.8-million in 2013 to $6.4-million last year.

[. . . ]

Anyone can bring as much money as they want in or out of Canada as long as they declare any sum of $10,000 or more – otherwise it could be seized. Border guards at Vancouver airport confiscated $19-million in undeclared cash from 2013 to 2015, with almost three quarters of it belonging to Chinese citizens. (Upwards of 3,200 passengers arrive each day from flights originating in Hong Kong and mainland China, according to data from the airport.)

Experts say Chinese travellers could have several reasons for not declaring assets.

Mr. Kiselbach added that CBSA likely ramped up the scrutiny on Chinese passengers because it gives increased attention to citizens from countries deemed a high risk for activities such as money laundering and financing terrorism.

Hayley Howe, an anti-money laundering expert at Vancouver-based consulting firm MNP, said many foreign visitors may be unaware of Canada’s currency reporting requirements or unable to read the customs form properly when they enter or exit the country.

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

If U.S. Customs & Border Protection 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.

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

CBP’s Big Fat Greek Cash Seizure

In Philadelphia, CBP did what you might call a big, fat, greek cash seizure, when they seized $26,000 from a couple who were leaving the United States for Greece.

The couple reported $17,000, but for some reason they did not report the other $9,000, which was found in “multiple envelopes.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $26,000 from a Greece-bound couple who violated federal currency reporting regulations at Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday.

During an outbound inspection, the couple reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $17,000. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered multiple envelopes that contained a combined $27,052. CBP officers provided the couple a humanitarian release of $501 and seized the remaining $26,551.

Officers released the couple to continue their travel to Greece.

Why would the couple fail to report the extra $9,000 to CBP? There are some things we do not know for certain. For example, the CBP officer could have led the couple to believe they only needed to report their own money, not money they were carrying for others; they could have asked them how much money they were carrying “in your carry-on”, when the other money was stashed away in a purse. And they could have panicked.

The story says that the couple was allowed to continue their travel to Greece. Most of my clients who’ve had money seized from Customs have to re-book for another flight, because the process of counting the money and seizing results can be a substantial delay. Sometimes my client’s don’t continue to their destination even if they can, because they have no money to travel with.

I’ve had clients who’ve taken a month off work for a vacation to their homeland, only to have their money seized with no source of funds to continue on the trip until they get their cash back. When CBP seizes cash, it is very often a heartbreaking, stressful, and traumatic experience.

But we are here to help! If you want to learn more about responding to a customs cash seizure in Philadelphia or anywhere else, read our trusted customs cash seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

CBP Seizes Cash Stashed in Truck in Nogales

Back in June, CBP made a big bust of $145,000 in “unreported” currency that was concealed in a vehicle’s rear quarter panels as the driver, a Mexican national, was trying to leave the United States for Mexico at the DeConcini border crossing.

[On June 18], [CBP] officers conducting routine outbound inspections referred a 46-year-old Mexican man for an inspection of his Chevrolet SUV at the DeConcini crossing. Officers found more than $145,000 in unreported U.S. currency in the vehicle’s rear quarter panels.

CBP seized the cash not just because it was “not reported” but because bulk cash smuggling — the fact of hiding the money in the quarter panel of a vehicle — is illegal and there are civil and criminal penalties for it.

Because of the southern border’s famous ties to the U.S.-Mexico illegal drug trade, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where this money was not connected to illegal activity. Even if this man came upon the money in a lawful way — for example, it was a life insurance payout from his deceased father — there is still no good reason for hiding the money in the quarter panel of his vehicle.

Or is there? Years ago, we represented a person who smuggled gold pieces across the U.S. Canadian border in the airbox of his vehicle, because they thought that would be safest spot for it on his journey through the U.S. to his return home in the heart of the country.

So, while it’s very likely that this guy who had $145,000 hidden in his truck is a mule for the drug trade, attempting to move illict cash across the border… it’s definitely not the only explanation. As it is famously said, truth is stranger than fiction.

Has CBP seized currency from you?

Need help proving law source and intended use of bulk cash? 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.

CBP checkpoint at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing, with vehicles in the foreground.

Over $350k per day in cash seized by CBP in 2015

CBP tweeted the other day about cash seized by CBP in 2015, and drug seizures. On “a typical day,” CPP seized $356,396 in cash nationwide; based on the number for the Detroit field office, $27,581 was seized “on a typical day” in Detroit.

Because CBP Detroit was #2 in the nation for currency seizures based on total amount of seizures (totaling $10M), a large part of that national average is due to the efforts of CBP Officers at the ports in the Detroit Field Office, most especially the officers at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

The cash seizures are from you run-of-the-mill everyday traveler who are bringing money to the United States for tuition, medical treatment, and to establish a new life; other times, the cash seizures are part of a cash smuggling operation bringing the money into or out of the United States to further the illicit narcotics trade across the borders.

In Detroit, our experience is most of these cases are run-of-the-mill travelers coming into the United States with legitimate money that’s intended to be used for legitimate sources. With our experience and good documentation, we are help to get cash back from Customs after seizure.

The lesson? Prevent seizure of cash by reporting all currency, fully, accurately, and completely to U.S. Customs & Border Protection before they have a chance to stop and question you about it. Don’t be like the poor folks who had their cash seized by CBP in 2015, be sure to report your money. Remember, the duty it yours to report the transportation of more than $10,000 into or out of the country before you are ever asked to make a report!