Tag: CBP

CBP at JFK Seizes Cocaine in Beef Patties

We have our first stupid smuggling attempt of 2017. In a story similar to one we blogged about 3 years ago where CBP at JFK Seized Cocaine in Meat, another traveler thought it would be a good idea to hide some cocaine in some beef patties from Jamaica. I again explain: it is basically impossible to import meat into the United States without getting advance permission from either the FDA, USDA, or both.

In other words, the smuggler tried to hide something illegal in something that was illegal. If you’re going to have any chance at success in smuggling, you would need to hide something illegal in something legal.

You should not hide something illegal in something illegal, and moreover, something that a dog is going to naturally gravitate toward, like meat.

Here is the full story:

JAMAICA, N.Y. — A traveler had more than a snack in her suitcase when she arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.  Fortunately, U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were there to stop her in her tracks.

On January 17, CBP officers intercepted passenger Ms. Chantal Alecia Bedward, a citizen of Jamaica, arriving from Kingston, Jamaica.  During her examination, CBP officers discovered what appeared to be a box of Tastee Brand, Jamaican Beef Patties.  CBP officers escorted Ms. Bedward to a private search room where the box of beef patties was opened revealing 12 duct-taped packages.  The packages were probed producing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Ms. Bedward was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  The approximate gross weight of cocaine seized was 4 lbs.

The CBP global entry line at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Detroit Metro Airport CBP Seize $59,451 Cash

Finally, a CBP cash seizure press release from my own home port of Detroit that happened at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is just a few miles down the road from our office. This one involves a U.S. citizen returning from China with his wife; together, the couple was found to be transporting more than $10,000 cash through Customs…. about $50,000 more, actually.

Here’s the full story from Detroit CBP:

DETROITOn November 28, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $59,451 in U.S. currency from a United States citizen after he failed to report the currency to CBP officers. The traveler is a member of the Global Entry trusted traveler program.

The male traveler and his wife arrived in Detroit on a flight from Beijing, China. He initially denied carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. currency or its equivalent in foreign currency. CBP Officers questioned the traveler as he and his wife attempted to exit the federal inspection area separately 13 minutes apart. Further inspection led to the discovery of $59,451 divided between the two.

“You must report to CBP that you are carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency or other monetary instruments when you travel into or out of the United States, especially if you are a member of Global Entry.” said Devin Chamberlain, CBP Detroit (Airport) Port Director. “There is no limit as to how much currency travelers can import or export. However, the law requires travelers to report when they carry at least $10,000 in monetary instruments.  Violators may face criminal prosecution and forfeiture of the undisclosed funds.”

As you can see, this story involves both a failure to report cash to customs and unlawful cash structuring. As we’ve explained time and time again at this customs law blog, cash will be seized by Detroit CBP if it is divided between a husband and wife (or other family members) traveling together and CBP has cause to believe it was done for the purpose of avoiding filing the currency report on form FinCen 105.

Had cash seized at Detroit Metro Airport by CBP?

If you’re like the people in this story and have suffered a cash seizure by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at Detroit Metro Airport, you’re in need of a lawyer to help you get your money back and potentially avoid criminal prosecution or inquiry. Every case is different and nuances, exceptions and interpretations are almost always present making each case unique and challenging. Many people need help even understanding the election of proceedings form that is included with the notice of seizure.

Please make use of our customs currency seizure legal guide, but remember to also take advantage of our free currency seizure consultation by contacting us today by clicking on the contact button!

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 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.

Nearly $60,000 sealed in two clear plastic bags in bundles laying on a table that was confiscated by CBP

CBP Confiscates $57,691 in Cash at Veterans International Bridge

CBP seized almost $60,000 in currency from a two Mexican citizens leaving the United States last Wednesday at the Veteran’s International Bridge. The story from CBP says tells me this was in fact not a failure to report cash, but typical bulk cash smuggling:

The seizure took place on Wednesday, Sept. 21, when CBP officers working outbound inspections at the Veterans International Bridge came in contact with a bronze 2003 Chevy Trail Blazer as it attempted to exit the United States into Mexico. The driver, a 52-year-old female Mexican citizen from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and a passenger, a 35-year-old male Mexican citizen also from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, were selected for a routine inspection and were referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, with the aid of a K9 unit, CBP officers discovered two packages containing a total of $57,691 in bulk, unreported U.S. currency hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the currency along with the vehicle, arrested the driver and passenger and turned them over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

Have you had cash confiscated by CBP?

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

Being Forced to Abandon Cash to Customs can Occur by Signing an Election of Proceedings form or Notice of Abandonment form

Threatened by CBP to abandon cash

Based on our sources, I have come to the belief that a good chunk of the notices of seizure and intent to forfeit publications/postings concerning cash seized at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport are the result of an effort, on the part of some CBP officers, to encourage people to abandon their money through such things as the threat of arrest, or the threat of futility. Read the we called “Forced to Abandon Cash to Customs?” from a few months ago about the process.

The threat of arrest is real, if often improbable. Not reporting currency, smuggling cash, and/or structuring it is a crime, even punishable by prison. But, in our experience, if there is no apparent and obvious connection to illegal activity, CBP will not make an arrest and there will be no criminal prosecution.

At the time of seizure, I’ve had clients tell me they are presented (prematurely…) with an “election of proceedings form”. The election of proceedings form is explained to them in a way that leads the client to believe there only chance of avoiding arrest is to choose to abandon the money and relinquish all rights to it and to future notice; and if they don’t want to abandon it, they will be arrested, will have to go to court, and even if they win, they will only get back a few dollars due to fees and penalties that will be charged. That’s the threat of futility. Why fight if you’ll never win?

This is not true. Never, ever trust the people who are seizing your money to tell you the truth about the best way to get it back. Never take legal advice from anyone who is not a lawyer, especially if that person is has no reason to act in your best interests. Above all, remember, you have the right to remain silent.

With this in mind, last week’s Forfeiture Notice for Detroit contained a high dollar seizure that occured on June 29, 2016, at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Here’s the excerpt:

2016380700090601-001-0000, Seized on 06/29/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 437; EA; Valued at $36,090.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316,  31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

When faced with a situation where CBP is telling you to abandon the cash or risk everything, it’s the proverbial gun to the head. “Give me your money or your life” situation. Don’t be fooled, the choices CBP may have presented you with are not real. They are false, and might be designed to manipulate you into abandoning your hard earned money.

Did you abandon cash to Customs (CBP)?

If you abandoned your cash by mistake, or by the threat of force or coercion, you need the advice of a customs lawyer, not this article (which is not legal advice). If you were forced to abandon cash to Customs, 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.

 

$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 Seizes $44k from Couple Flying to Ghana

What happens when you’re going to Ghana and you don’t declare your cash to CBP? Your cash is a Goner! Last week, CBP at Dulles Airport in Sterling Virginia seized $44,606 from a couple leaving the United States from Ghana.

According to CBP, the couple told CBP they only had $14,000…. that’s about $30,000 less than what they were carrying. If true, that is a pretty serious failure to report violation. No one forgets they are carrying $30,000 less than they have.

But there are always two sides to every story. In my experience, CBP occasionally has a way of justifying cash seizures if the facts later turn out not to support their reasons for seizure (like when family is traveling together and they think the money was intentionally structured). Here’s the story from CBP’s perspective:

In separate incidents on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted an impostor who arrived from Ghana, and seized about $44,000 from a couple heading to Ghana.

[ . . . ]

Moments later, a CBP K9 alert led to CBP officers seizing a total of $44,606 in U.S. dollars and equivalent foreign currency from a Ghanaian couple who attempted to board a flight to Ghana. The woman was already on the flight when CBP officers interviewed the man. The Ghanaian man reported to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000. He then reported that his wife had an additional $5,000. CBP officers discovered the additional currency during a baggage inspection.

CBP returned $1,500 to the couple and released them to continue their journey.

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.

None of the three travelers was arrested. The Privacy Act prohibits releasing the travelers’ names since they were not criminally charged.

“These are two very serious violations of U.S. immigration and currency reporting laws, and these travelers are very fortunate to avoid criminal prosecution,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “Customs and Border Protection hopes that these incidents are a reminder to all travelers to be truthful with CBP officers. The United States is a welcoming country, especially to those who respect our nation’s laws.”

Has CBP seized your cash?

If CBP 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.

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

CBP Detroit Cash Forfeitures for 7-29-16

Last Friday’s notice of seizure and intent to forfeit for U.S. Customs & Border Protection featured 3 currency seizures that occurred in 3 separate incidents on June 2 and June 9, with a total seizure value of $72,338.

The seizure on June 2 for $40,080, was for a failure to report cash to Detroit CBP and for bulk cash smuggling:

2016380700084501-001-0000, Seized on 06/02/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 403; EA; Valued at $40,080.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5332

The seizures on June 9, one for $17,657, was for a failure to report; the other, for $14,601, was for failure to report cash to Detroit CBP and for an unlawful cash structuring violation.

2016380700086001-001-0000, Seized on 06/09/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 186; EA; Valued at $17,657.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

2016380700086101-001-0000, Seized on 06/09/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 175; EA; Valued at $14,601.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

As with most cases that are posted up on forfeiture.gov, the publication of the intent to forfeit the property likely represents a total failure on the part of the person whose money was seized to successfully navigate the process for getting seized back from Detroit CBP.  Administrative forfeiture is a last resort and also has the worst outcome in most cases; if any money is recovered at all, it is often far, far less than would be recovered through the administrative petition process. But, whether to file a claim or an administrative petition is a decision that should be made in consultation with your attorney.

Due to how quickly people have money seized and the representations of the seizing officers, people mistakenly believe that getting seized money back from Detroit CBP is an easy process.

Instead, it is fraught with difficulties and unforeseen challenges. Instead of risking forfeiture and the total loss of your money, do the smart thing and call us for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of the free customs money seizure legal guide we publish on this website.

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.

$100 Dollar Bills Slider

$22K Currency Seized by CBP enroute to Serbia

Dulles strictly enforces the bulk cash smuggling and structuring guidelines (to my knowledge, not publicly available and not published in CBP’s mitigation guidelines) that call for a hefty forfeiture of half – or more than half of the money even when legitimate source and intended use are shown.

The repeated denial of carrying more than $10,000, couple with the splitting of the money between two envelopes in the carry-on bag is enough for customs to infer an intent to evade the reporting requirement; the concealment of the money in envelopes in the carry-on baggage is enough to infer an intent to conceal the money from the view of CBP.

That means this man heading to Serbia is about to lose, at a minimum, $11,000, for not properly understanding the the cash reporting laws and for not being (anywhere near) truthful to CBP at the time he was asked to report how much money he was traveling with.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized nearly $23,000 from a Serbia-bound U.S. citizen on Sunday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

During an outbound inspection, the Serbia-bound man declared, both verbally and in writing, to a CBP officer that he possessed $9,000. CBP officers discovered $700 in U.S. dollars and 190 Euros (about $211 in USD) in the man’s wallet. CBP officers then discovered an additional $22,000 split between two envelopes in the man’s carry-on bag.

CBP officers seized $22,911 in total. Officers then provided a humanitarian release of $723 plus the 190 Euros to the traveler, and advised him how to petition for the remainder of the currency. Officers released the traveler to continue his journey to Serbia.

“Customs and Border Protection officers afforded this traveler multiple opportunities to truthfully report his currency, and he chose not do to so. Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements risk severe consequences, including currency seizure and potential criminal charges,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Washington Dulles. “The easiest way for travelers to hold on to their currency is to truthfully report it all to a CBP officer during inspection.”

Incidentally, the story says that CBP advised him “how to petition for the remainder of the currency”. We just wrote about taking legal advice from CBP — in short, you have a lot more options for getting seized cash back from CBP besides a petition, some of which are presented on the election of proceedings form.

Has CBP seized currency from you?

If you got currency seized by CBP 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.