Tag: customs cash seizure

$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 Seized $150,000k in Smuggled Cash in El Paso

Way down in Texas, U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized nearly $150,000 in cash that was hidden in a backpack and a purse, when a two adults and two children were attempting to leave the country.

The seizure was made shortly after 9 a.m. when a 2000 Ford Focus with two adults and two children arrived at the outbound lanes at the Ysleta port of entry. CBP officers were conducting a southbound operation at the time and selected the vehicle for an examination. During the inspection CBP officers located bundles of U.S. currency concealed in a child’s back pack. Additional bundles of currency were located in the purse of the female adult passenger.CBP officers took custody of the driver, a 31-year-old male citizen of Mexico. They also took custody of the passenger, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen female. The subjects, vehicle and currency were turned over to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office for prosecution.

The story also re-hashes, in a simple way, the law governing currency reporting requirements into or out of the United States:

“There is absolutely no limit to the amount of currency a traveler can bring into or take out of the United States,” said CBP El Paso Port Director Beverly Good. “The only requirement is travelers must report aggregate amounts that reach or exceed $10,000 to CBP. Failure to do so can result in criminal or civil penalties.”

U.S. law requires international travelers to properly report currency in their possession whether traveling into or departing from the United States.

Again, we have the mistatement of the law that there is a requirement to report “amounts that reach or exceed $10,000” when actually it only must exceed $10,000. But it is not clear if reporting the money in this border crossing scenario could have avoided the seizure of the cash, because it seems as though there was an independent basis for seizure of the money besides the bulk cash smuggling and failure to report; i.e., the money may have a illegal source or an illegal intended use.

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.

A overhead shot $43,000 mostly in $20 bills that was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection protection heading outbound to Mexico.

CBP Seized Hidden Cash from US Citizen in Texas

The CBP news release feed has been full of news about various enforcement actions on the immigration side of its mission, but with fewer news releases about currency reporting enforcement. Of course, there was the story about the smuggling of horse meat from Mongolia a few days ago.

There has not been much news about currency seizures, although we have noticed no downturn in cash seizure activity on the part of CBP…. but then CBP released this story out of Presidio, Texas, which is your run-of-the-mill bulk cash smuggling seizure that occurs at our border with Mexico.

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $43,514 Tuesday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the center console and air manifold of a pick-up truck.

CBP officers were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 5:25 p.m. a 2010 Ford F-150 pick-up driven by a 27-year-old U.S. citizen from Andrews, Texas, approached the checkpoint. The driver and vehicle were selected for an intensive inspection. During inspection of the vehicle the officers noticed anomalies in the appearance of the vehicle. Inspection of the center console revealed currency bundles wrapped in plastic bags hidden within. Further inspection of the vehicle led to more bundles hidden in the air filter housing and side dashboard panel. A total of nine bundles were removed from the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver to ICE HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt. He was arrested and federal prosecution accepted.

“CBP officers are working hard to stop the illegal movement of guns, ammunition and unreported currency,” said Michael Neipert, CBP Presidio port director “Travelers who do not follow federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency and may potentially face criminal charges.”

I am impressed that this was called what it was: a bulk cash smuggling seizure. As I’ve pointed out in the past, CBP often calls these failures to report cash; technically true, but not the most accurate name them.

U.S. CBP seized cash hidden in a shipping container at the San Juan, Puerto Rico seaport.

CBP Seizes $29,000 Smuggled at San Juan

A few weeks back, CBP announced another recent seizure of unreported cash at the San Juan seaport in a shipment of cargo containers. A customs cash seizure in Puerto Rico also happened back in May. The story makes the same curiously absent identification of the event as being an incident of bulk cash smuggling, not just a failure to report.

In this case, the seizure of cash happened when U.S. Customs & Border Protection offciers were examining cargo containers and discovered some anomalies (presumably when imaging) a 55 gallon drum. The cash was destined for the Dominican Republic, as below:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET) seized approximately $29,000 in unreported currency in an outbound enforcement action at the San Juan Seaport.

The interception occurred Oct. 21 while CBP officers were examining cargo containers at a CBP facility.  CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of a container and discovered anomalies on a 55 gallon storage drum. Further examination revealed the hidden currency.  The container was destined to the Dominican Republic.

This is interesting because it again demonstrates that the currency reporting law applies equally to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Have you had cash seized by CBP in Puerto Rico?

If CBP seized your cash in Puerto Rico, 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.

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.

$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

Detroit CBP Seizes $10,005 in Cash at DTW

Press releases from CBP about cash seizures have been slow for the past several weeks, but there are still plenty of people getting money seized and lots of forfeiture actions being published on forfeiture.gov, like the following case where slightly more than $10,000 was seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport on June 16:

2016380700087701-001-0000, Seized on 06/16/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 101; EA; Valued at $10,005.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

What a bummer for this person; he had another $5 with him that took him the category of people who do not have to file the currency report, to the category of people that must file. My guess is that he knew the reporting limit was $10,000, so that’s all he took with him (which could be a structuring violation, anyway); but he probably forgot about a $5 bill in the fold of his wallet, or in the pocket of his luggage. This is technically – legally – a violation of the reporting law. Of course, Detroit Customs seized his cash.

Sometimes they let people amend their report, sometimes they do not. I’ve had clients who’ve had money seized in same detention area with someone who, also failing to report, have not had money seized. I presume the decision to seize is dependent on the facts and circumstances of the seizure, and it is not just entirely arbitrary and capricious. I would really, really, like to believe that.

If you are traveling with $10,000.01 or more, you must file a currency report with CBP. If he was traveling with $10,000, no report was necessary. But, because he had $10,005, he had to file a currency seizure report.

Has Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If Detroit 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.

Money Seized by CBP near D.C.

A Virginia man had money seized by CBP near Washington, D.C., last week when CBP officers seized $38,872 worth of money exiting the country at Dulles International Airport en route to Ghana. The story says CBP officers were conducting an “outbound enforcement operation” which is a fancy way of saying that, as passengers were boarding their flights and presenting their boarding tickets at the gate, CBP officers were standing by and asking how much money they were carrying and were ready to seize money from anyone misreporting it.

These encounters are often unexpected by travelers. Questions are sometimes asked informally without an explanation from CBP. These often prompts surprise, panic, and thoughts like “What business is it of you how much money I am transporting?” Rare is an explanation of the reporting requirement made (though it is not required).

The the CBP officer might questions like:

  • “How much money is in your bag?”
  • “How much money is in your wallet?”
  • “How much money are YOU carrying?”

A truthful answer to those questions could get you in trouble, because in reality what CBP seeks to find out is how much money are you transporting in your bag, wallet, on your person, and with other members of your group.

After you’ve answered the question, truthfully or inaccurately, CBP will then either pull you aside and count the money (a “secondary examination”), or present you with form 6059B to read and sign (sometimes they prepare the form with your verbal report and present it only for signature).

The form 6059B contains a detailed statement about when money must be reported to customs, and how. It also explains the penalty for not reporting money to CBP. If you fill out the form inaccurately and sign it, you’ve just broken the law and your money is now subject to seizure by CBP.

If you’ve ever had money seized by CBP, you know that the process is tilted in the government’s favor. That’s Great Lakes Customs Law is here — to help you get your money back for you. In any event, here is an excerpt from the story from CBP in Virgina:

A man was boarding a flight to Ghana and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on the international flight.  The man completed a financial form, reporting $8,500 however; a total of $38,872 was discovered on his person.  CBP officers seized the $38,872 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.

Did you have money seized by CBP?

If you had money seized by CBP, you can learn more from our trusted legal guide to a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Cash from China seized in Red Envelopes

Cash From China Seized Due to Capital Controls

Late last year, we wrote about Chinese nationals taking their cash out of the country by the suitcase. A suitcase full of cash coupled with a failure to report that cash to Customs will result in a seizure. We receive calls frequently from people who have had their cash from China seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP).

But why do folks risk getting cash from China seized? Another story in the Wall Street Journal called “In Reversal, Cash Leaks Out of China” from way back in 2012, explains it; capital controls limit how much money can be taken out of the country, which has led to the create of an industry of service providers that help Chinese take cash out of the country, for those who don’t have the courage (or are too smart) to carry it out in a suitcase. For those who want to read more, there is also great article about Chinese capital controls.

Here’s excerpts from the Wall Street Journal article, with my emphasis in bold:

Wealthy Chinese citizens are buying beachfront condos in Cyprus, paying big U.S. tuition bills for their children and stocking up on luxury goods in Singapore, frequently moving cash secretly through a flourishing network of money-transfer agents. Chinese companies, for their part, are making big-ticket foreign acquisitions, buying up natural resources and letting foreign profits accumulate overseas.

[ . . . ]

China officially maintains a closed capital account, meaning it restricts the ability of individuals and businesses to move money across its borders. Chinese individuals aren’t allowed to move more than $50,000 per year out of the country. Chinese companies can exchange yuan for foreign currencies only for approved business purposes, such as paying for imports or approved foreign investments.

In reality, the closed system has become more porous and the rules are routinely ignored. “The wealthy in China have always had an open capital account,” says Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist and former International Monetary Fund official.

Zheng Nan recently spent €300,000 ($390,000) on a beachfront condo in Cyprus. At 50 years old, he says he is retired from selling telecommunications gear in China for foreign manufacturers. “My plan is to spend winter there because of the pollution in Beijing,” he says. “And we will be back for summer.”

China’s $50,000-a-year limit on moving capital out presented a problem for him. He says he got around the restriction by recruiting friends to move chunks of his money under their own names. Real-estate agents in China say that is a common practice that is largely tolerated by authorities.

[ . . . ]

A sprawling industry has developed to help Chinese get money out. Services range from the money-transfer agents to private jets that ferry money by customs officials unmolested, according to lawyers and brokers who help Chinese investors find investments abroad. Sometimes bank transfers by companies hide personal money being moved out, these people say. Another method is to piggyback personal cash atop legitimate export and import transactions, at times by using fake invoices, they say. People even carry bags of cash across the border.

Charlie Zhang, an agent in Shenzhen who matches wealthy mainlanders with real-estate investments abroad, says getting money out isn’t a problem.

“We suggest them to other people, some special channel, that can exchange money outside the banks, outside supervision,” Mr. Zhang says. “It’s not hard for people to solve this problem.”

Cyprus has become a popular investment destination for wealthy Chinese. The island nation in the Eastern Mediterranean gives permanent European Union residency to anyone who spends €300,000 on a property.

“People in China are rich,” says Arthur Cheung, a Hong Kong-based immigration consultant who matches Chinese buyers with foreign property sellers, including from Cyprus. “They just buy a passport or permanent residency like a Louis Vuitton bag.”

Source: http://www.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390443507204578020272862374326

Was your cash from China seized?

The process of getting undeclared currency seized by CBP back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If you had cash from China seized , 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.

Undeclared Currency Seized by CBP

$5.9M in Undeclared Currency Seized in Texas

CBP operates on a fiscal year that runs from October 1 to September 30. For fiscal year 2015, CBP in Laredo Texas field office reported some impressive seizure figures.  Most impressive for our purposes here the amount of undeclared currency seized by CBP Texas — $5.9 million dollars.

This story continues a series of stories we recently published about CBP’s annual currency seizure statistics both nationally, in the souther border states, and in the Detroit field office.

This undeclared currency seized figure, and figures for other seizures by CBP, are in story below:

During FY 2015, CBP officers at eight ports of entry extending from Brownsville to Del Rio that comprise the Laredo Field Office seized 164,418 pounds of narcotics that carried a combined estimated street value of $172 million. This represents a 49 percent increase over the total amount of drugs seized in FY 2014. Specifically, they seized 152,891 pounds of marijuana, up a whopping 54 percent over FY 2014; 5,519 pounds of cocaine; 5,005 pounds of methamphetamine, up 36 percent from FY 2014; 1,003 pounds of heroin, up 31 percent from FY 2014, $5.9 million in undeclared currency, 32 firearms and 7,372 rounds of ammunition.

South Texas CBP officers in FY 2015 determined that a total of  52,809 non-U.S. citizens were inadmissible to the U.S. due to violations of immigration law, a 33 percent increase over FY 2014.

Have you had undeclared currency seized by CBP?

The process of getting undeclared currency seized by CBP back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If Border Patrol seized cash from you, 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.