Tag: customs money 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.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Officer's uniform, featuring the seal of the agency.

CBP Seizes $38k Bulk Cash in Texas

I’ve not had much time for blogging about customs law, as CBP enforcement seems to have increased lately. But, I did see this story come up about a seizure of money in…. suprise: Texas! Not Dulles this time.

The money seizure occurred at the Del Rio International Bridge. Just three days ago, Customs officers stopped and searched a Mexican woman driving her vehicles out of the United States. During the course of the inspection, CBP found that she had “several bundles of cash in her possession” that totaled $37,901.

Although the story does not explain how, or if, the money was hidden, it does say that she will be prosecuted for bulk cash smuggling. It’s odd that, most of the time these seizure stories form CBP in Texas explain how they money was hidden but only calls those violations a failure to report; in this case, it is not explained how the money was hidden, but is called bulk cash smuggling. It’s becoming my pet peeve.

On to the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Del Rio International Bridge recently seized more than $30,000 in U.S. currency from a woman leaving the United States bound for Mexico.

On Dec. 19, CBP officers, conducting outbound inspections at the Del Rio Port of Entry, encountered a 2010 SUV departing the United States for Mexico. During inspection, officers discovered the woman driving the SUV had several bundles of cash in her possession. Officers seized $37,901 in undeclared U.S. currency.The driver, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Mexico, was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for federal prosecution for bulk cash smuggling – 31 USC § 5332.

“Seizing undeclared currency at ports of entry serves to deprive criminal organizations of their profits,” said Port Director Alberto D. Perez, Del Rio Port of Entry. “Large amounts of currency may be imported and exported with the proper documentation.

“Failure to report international transit of $10,000 or more could mean forfeiture of funds and criminal sanctions.”

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.

$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.

CBP in Nogales seized $79,180 on May 10, 2016, which is picture on a glass-top table in bundles.

$79k Bulk Cash Seized by CBP in Arizona

On May 10, 2016, CBP seized $79,000 of bulk cash that smuggled beneath the rear seats of a Honda SUV that was driven by a 48 year old Mexican national. In the story, CBP says the money was in a “non-factory compartment” which means that the vehicle was “outfitted for smuggling.”

Customs and Border Protection officers seized more than $79,000 in unreported currency . . .  Tuesday (May10) through the Port of Nogales.

At about the same time, officers performing outbound inspections referred a 48-year-old Mexican male for further inspection of his Honda SUV. Multiple packages of unreported currency was discovered within a non-factory compartment beneath the rear seats.

I’ve represented clients in some very bizarre circumstances, and hundreds of people who have currency seized by Customs. When it comes to money, people are often irrational. That being said, the fact that this seizure occurred in Nogales, Arizona, gives the cash involved in this bulk cash smuggling seizure the tinge of illegality because of its proximity to the drug trade.

Typically, legitimate source and use of seized money must be proven in order to get the money back from CBP. When the money is seized for bulk cash smuggling, legitimate source and intended use is still necessary to prove to get some money returned, but a further analysis is whether or not forfeiture of the entire amount of currency is an excessive fine under the U.S. constitution.

Also important to note is that the Honda SUV is also subject to seizure and forfeiture because it was involved in the commission of a crime, and furthermore, because it was a vehicle outfitted for smuggling. The mere fact of a hidden compartment designed to hide contraband, even if not full of contraband, is sufficient to make the vehicle subject to seizure and forfeiture.

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.

An April 22 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Boston Logan airport.

$14k Cash Seized at Boston Logan Airport

Back in September of 2015, $14,080 in cash was seized at Boston Logan Airport (BOS – port code 0417) by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. Seven months later, the seized cash is still languishing in the bank accounts of Customs because the interested people apparently failed to convince customs the money came from a legitimate source or had a legitimate intended use. That is why it is Boston CBP published a notice of seizure and intent to forfeit, to start and finalize the administrative forfeiture process (which does not involve a judge, unless a claim is filed requesting judicial forfeiture).
We have a great history of success in getting seized cash back from Customs and have successfully represented clients with a cash seizure at Boston Logan Airport. Don’t be foolish and try to get money back yourself, or hire an inexperienced lawyer to do it for you — you will get a bad result. A petition must not be an apology letter! This is why we recommend hiring a customs lawyer to get seized cash back from Customs.
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 22, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 21, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 21, 201

BOSTON, MA
2015041700014401-001-0000, Seized on 09/25/2015; At the port of LOGAN AIRPORT, CT; U.S. CURRENCY; 153;EA; Valued at $14,080.00; For violation of 31USC5316

Have you had cash seized at Boston Logan airport?

If you’ve had cash seized at Boston Logan airport, 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. As we try to make clear on the free currency seizure materials on our website, the process is very complicated and CBP can be extremely adversarial and stubborn in their refusal to return your money to you after a seizure. There is reason for great caution whenever you are communicating with Customs after a seizure.
Keep Calm and Declare Monetary Instruments Exceeding $10,000 USD

CBP Seizes $48K Cash at Philly International Airport

Another day, another currency seizure by U.S. Customs & Border Protection at this nation’s border crossing and airports from an international traveler. This time, the story occurs at Philly International Airport (PHL) but a currency seizure could just as easily happen anywhere.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Philadelphia International Airport seized $48,935 on Tuesday from a Massachusetts man for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The man was boarding a flight to Jamaica and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on an international flight. The man completed a financial form, reporting $4,000, however; CBP officers discovered a total of $48,935 on his person and in his luggage. Officers subsequently seized the $48,935.

This story is a good opportunity to go over some basic information about customs money seizures, which is similar whether at Philly International Airport or elsewhere. First, anytime a person is transporting more than $10,000 in cash or monetary instruments into or out of the country, they must report the cash value to U.S. Customs. In this case, if the man who had his money seized by CBP really had only $4,000, there would be no need to complete the financial form (FinCEN 105) that is mentioned in the story. But, be mindful of what your fellow travelers are carrying in terms of cash to avoid a structuring violation.

Rather, he would be under no duty to report. But in this case, the story suggests (and our experience representing who’ve had cash seized) that Customs were very suspicious that this person was not telling the truth and therefore wanted to catch him in a violation of the reporting requirement and so asked him to complete the financial form.

Because he under-reported the amount of currency he had the money became subject to seizure for, at minimum, a failure to report.Thus, his money was taken by CBP and, if he wants it, he must now get it back by making a petition, an offer in compromise, or filing a claim, and show that the money came a from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use.

The story ends with an accurate warning:

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.

“Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Area Port Director for the Port of Philadelphia. “The traveler was given the opportunity to truthfully report his currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”

Have you cash seized at Philly International Airport?

If you’ve had cash seized from CBP at Philly International Airport, 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.

A picture of the more than $150,000 cash taken by CBP officers in Hidalgo, Texas.

Cash Taken by CBP in Hidalgo

Over $150,000 in cash was taken by CBP officers in Hidalgo, Texas, recently, when a 33 year old U.S. citizen who, apparently, decided to take some spending money with him on a trip to Mexico. Or not.

Like always, this cases where cash is found hidden in a vehicle it is almost certainly bulk cash smuggling. It’s very likely that, if you’ve got $150,000 hidden in your vehicle and wrapped in plastic bundles, you’re up to no good. But not always; maybe it’s rental car, or borrowed from someone else who likes to hide cash. It’s not likely, but I have former clients who were involved in stranger scenarios.

One thing I’d like to point out, as I must always do in these stories about cash taken by CBP… bulk cash smuggling, as described here, is when money is hidden with the intent to not report it to CBP. This does not appear to be a simple failure to report! Bulk cash smuggling is far more serious in terms of consequences and in the difficulty and skill involved in attempting to get the money back. The story:

Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) working outbound operations at the Hidalgo International Bridge arrested a man from Roma, Texas after discovering $150,202 in unreported U.S. currency within the vehicle he was driving.

CBP officers working outbound operations at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge on April 11, encountered a 33-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a silver GMC Terrain SUV at  the lanes the exit into Mexico. After the primary inspection, the driver and vehicle were referred for further examination and it was there that officers discovered four packages of U.S. currency hidden within the cargo area of the SUV.

CBP OFO seized the unreported currency, the vehicle and arrested the driver who was then released to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents for further investigation.

 “Our ability to deploy officers at the outbound lanes (going into Mexico), allows CBP Field Operations to target travelers who may be attempting to circumvent reporting requirements of merchandise or currency,” said Port Director Efrain Solis Jr., Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “People who choose not to comply with export regulations may be conducting business in an illicit manner and CBP will assert its authority to safeguard against these types of violations.”

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 taken by CBP?

If you’ve had cash taken 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.