Tag: el paso

Bags of money stuffed inside a speaker box seized by U.S. Customs

CBP discovers and seizes about $700,000 leaving for Mexico

Here is a tale of a cash seizure made by CBP in El Paso, Texas, from back in June. I’ve been sitting on this one a while due to customs law blogging being a pretty low priority due to my heavy case load. The facts are not unusual in this case: young man, driving a ordinary vehicle, denies carrying more than $10,000 in cash. Upon inspection on the ordinary vehicle, CBP finds more than a half-million dollars of cash hidden in it. It looks like it was hidden inside a subwoofer-enclosure.

Here’s the story:

Officers working at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations’ El Paso port of entry (POE) seized $689,506 in currency yesterday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in a vehicle that was leaving the U.S. at the Ysleta international crossing at the El Paso POE.

The seizure was made Sunday evening when a 2006 Nissan X-Terra arrived at the outbound inspection station at the Ysleta crossing. CBP personnel interviewed the driver and received a negative declaration for any currency in excess of $10,000, weapons or ammunition. CBP personnel selected the vehicle for a secondary exam during which they located several bundles of currency hidden within a speaker box.

CBP officers arrested a 28-year-old male driver, of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. He was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations agents to face charges associated with the failed smuggling attempt.

Needless to say, this is a textbook example of bulk cash smuggling. I’m 99% certain this guy was up to no good, that the money had neither a legitimate source nor a legitimate intended use. As such (and even more-so because smuggling was involved), there is a infinitesimally (immeasurably, or incalculably small) small chance he could ever hope to get this money back.

This differs greatly from the types of people we love to help get seized money back from Customs. Our average currency seizure client has more than $10,000 seized either entering or exiting the country for a failure to report it, for dividing it, and occasionally for also hiding it.

Has customs taken your hard earned money?

If customs took your hard earned money, you should hire a lawyer. You should also read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

 

$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.

Loss of Cash to Texas CBP via Notice of Forfeiture & Intent to Seize

Losing cash to Texas CBP

In the context of negotiation to get some of my client’s seized cash returned from CBP, I once had a conversation with a Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures officer. I remarked that I couldn’t believe how much money people lost to CBP through cash seizures. Without hesitation, he replied “I can’t believe how much money people don’t try to get back from CBP.”

So in consideration of people about to lose some cash to CBP, let’s have a look at some money seizures by CBP in Texas that are on the verge of being forfeited (that is, lost forever to the government). All of this information is courtesy of www.forfeiture.gov, and spans cash seizure notices of seizure and intent to forefeit for April 22 and April 29.

First up, Houston:

HOUSTON, TX
2016530100037301-001-0000, Seized on 04/14/2016; At the port of HOUSTON, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 1; EA;
Valued at $333,485.00; For violation of 31USC5317/5316

A whopping $333,485 was seized in Houston, Texas, for a simply failing to report it. Houston is one of the ports where I’ve heard that Customs can be pretty fair in giving people plenty of opportunity to make the cash report. Next up, Presidio/El Paso, Texas:

EL PASO, TX
2016240300008401-001-0000, Seized on 02/17/2016; At the port of PRESIDIO, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 4,907; EA; Valued at $138,209.00; For violation of 31USC5332(A),31USC5332(C),31USC5316,31USC5317

This is more than just a failure to report — the reference to 31 USC 5332 means that it is also seized for bulk cash smuggling, which likewise means that a greater amount of money is subject to forfeiture by CBP. In addition, because just below this entry and bearing the same case number is a 2004 Ford F150 truck, we can safely assume that this $138,209 was concealed within the the truck.

The last entry, for Laredo, Texas, is more puzzling:

LAREDO, TX
2016231000003901-001-0000, Seized on 04/02/2016; At the port of ROMA, $3,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316,31USC5324

The cash reporting requirement only applies to amounts of money being transported in excess of $10,000, but this entry indicates that $3,200 was seized for both a failure to report and a structuring violation. But you can’t violate the cash reporting law by transporting less than $10,000. So how is it that CBP is forfeiting $3,200?

Well, it’s possible it was some small part of a structuring transaction; but in that case, I would expect to see another entry with the same case number of seizure date the brings the amount to over $10,000. It’s also possible that the person only transported $3,200 because they did not want to have to report traveling with more than $10,000. More likely (in terms of a structuring violation), would be that there was a sequence of transactions of moving money across the border and, when they were all added up and CBP got wind of the structuring plot, they seized this last bit of $3,200. If you don’t understand that, you haven’t read our article on cash structuring to avoid the reporting requirement.

Have you lost cash to CBP through a money seizure?

A loss of cash to CBP through seizure is a traumatic experience. If the money has not already been forfeited, there are some good chances to get it back if you know what you’re doing. Our customs law firms knows what it’s doing. 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.