Tag: fy2017

Officers at the Port of San Luis discovered two packages of unreported U.S. currency hidden within frozen packages of tortilla dough

CBP Officers Seize Cash Disguised as Dough

This article could also be called, CBP seizes “dough,” slang for cash. This seems to me to be a very clever smuggling attempt, but I don’t know much because I’m not a customs officer. I have it on very good authority that after years on the job, a good CBP officer develops a sixth sense for the presence of contraband.

In this case, a Mexican man stashed $54,000 in bags of tortilla dough that were in a cooler in the back of his van:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of San Luis arrested a Mexican national Thursday after finding unreported U.S. currency, hidden inside of tortilla dough.

Officers referred a 54-year-old Mexican man for a further search of his Honda van Thursday afternoon and found $54,000 in unreported U.S. currency within an ice chest in the rear of the van. The bags of tortilla dough were taken apart, revealing two packages of currency of varying denominations.

Officers seized all contraband and vehicle involved, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

 

CBP Seizes Guns & Money to Mexico

Guns, money, and and lawyers; the first two items are what this disjointed story from CBP is about, and the last is what the 3 people involved in this cash and firearm seizures by CBP will need. Customs seized $20,000 outbound to Mexico which resulted in an arrest, another $38,000 that probably (but not certainly resulted in an arrest), and a a cache of guns and ammo.

It reminds me of the song, “Lawyers, Guns & Money” (the Hank Williams, Jr. cover of the song is a bit more lively…. ). The total amount seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection was $58,000 cash. Anyway, here’s the story from CBP:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested two Mexican nationals Tuesday after finding unreported U.S. currency, weapons and ammunition in separate seizures.

Officers referred a 27-year-old Mexican man for a further search of his Dodge sedan Tuesday night and found more than $20,000 in unreported U.S. currency within the vehicle’s center console. This is the second unreported currency seizure this week.

On March 11, Lukeville officers prevented $38,000 from being smuggled into Mexico.

At about the same time, officers referred a 43-year-old Mexican woman for a secondary inspection of the Dodge truck she was driving. That search turned up multiple firearms and associated accessories to include several assault rifles, a handgun, multiple ammunition magazines, two weapon scopes and approximately 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

 

An example of cash report for customs.

CBP Seizes $13K in Unreported Currency at Washington Dulles International Airport

A traveler bound for Ethiopa had $13,000 seized from him by U.S. Customs & Border Protection at Dulles airport a few weeks back. This story is part of the (seemingly) un-ending trend of currency seizures coming from Dulles airport lately.

The facts are largely the same as most of the other stories. A U.S. citizen attempts to leave the United States without first making the required currency report to Customs. The man probably thought he would not have to report it because — after all, you do not pass through Customs when leaving the country, only when arriving. But the currency reporting requirement applies equally to those entering the country and to those leaving the country.

During an outbound inspection, the man declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that he possessed $5,000; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $13,294 on his person and in his luggage.  The officers seized the $13,294, returning the equivalent of $424 in foreign and U.S. currency for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The traveler was then released to continue his journey.

A verbal or written declaration gets you nowhere if it is inaccurate. What form did he make the written declaration on and why? No declaration is required for monetary instruments of $10,000 or less, so why would Customs make him complete a written declaration?

The only reason would be to have affirmative proof that he did not make a proper verbal declaration of the money by being able to say, “See, he also lied about it in writing. It is not our word against his. His very own handwriting — his written declaration — also proves him guilty.”

By obtaining a written declaration, Dulles may have a stronger case if they try to prove that the money is subject to forfeiture for bulk cash smuggling violations.Yes, watch out in Dulles for strict enforcement of Customs guidelines concerning seizure of monetary instruments for structuring and bulk cash smuggling offenses.

 

CBP seizes ammo and $9,995 cash, make criminal charges

Channel 4 Valley Central news picked up on a seizure of ammunition and some cash at the Hidalgo International Bridge last Wednesday. The story is noteworthy because it involves the seizure of less than $10,000…. by about $5 bucks.

Who travels with $9,995? Someone who has structured their currency transaction so that they would not have to file a currency transaction report on FinCen 105 and report their cash to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, that’s who.

And what’s wrong with traveling with $9,995 if you desire to avoid the hassle of reporting the money to CBP? Everything, because it’s against the law! That’s called unlawful cash structuring. Let’s have a look at an excerpt from the criminal complaint:

criminal-complaint-cash-ammo

It is somewhat suspicious but, his explanations have a ring of truth to it. Nevertheless, exporting ammunition from the U.S. (and thought not charged with it… structuring a cash transaction to evade the reporting requrement) is illegal, and therefore, a crime. And at the end of the day, that’s the reason he was charged; he’s not been charged with intending to use the ammo or the cash for any nefarious purpose (even if CBP believes that he did so intend).

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Officers seized more than 400 rounds of ammunition and $9,995 at the Hidalgo bridge on Wednesday.

Espinoza “provided CBPOs with a negative declaration for currency, weapons and ammunition,” according to the criminal complaint.Officers search Espinoza’s vehicle and found $9,995 cash — $6,620 underneath a battery cover inside the engine and $3,375 stuffed in an envelope, according to the criminal complaint.

They also found 400 rounds of ammunition.

“Espinoza claimed the U.S. currency was meant to purchase vehicles from a local auto auction company in the McAllen, Texas area, but he did not purchase the vehicles,” according to the criminal complaint. “He stated that he hid the U.S. currency in the engine compartment to conceal it from Mexican Customs officials and the cartel because they would take it from him if they knew he had it.”

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

If CBP seized cash from, learn more about what your options are from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide; and can take advantage of the free currency seizure consultation we offer 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?

10 bundles of cash totaling more than $90,000 laid out on top of a black plastic as seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Laredo, Texas, after a secondary examination.

CBP seizes $91,000 in secondary examination

Another day, another dollar… seized. In Laredo, Texas, the Texas-Mexico border town, U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized about $90,000 from a 30 year old Mexican national heading back to Mexico.

October 1 begins the government’s new fiscal year, and this story of unreported cash being seized by CBP is likely one of the first of many for CBP Laredo of 2017. As you’ll note in the story, a “secondary examination” of the vehicle turned up hidden packages of “unreported cash” — that is, truly a bulk cash smuggling offense, even if still a failure to report. A secondary examination, or intensive examination, usually involves the dismantling of the vehicle in search of contraband; the removing of body panels, an undercarriage inspection, etc. It can be very destructive, as can be seen in the following video:

But, on to the story as reported by CBP:

The interception occurred on Friday, Oct. 21 while CBP officers and agents conducting outbound (southbound) inspections at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge referred a 2013 Toyota Prius driven by a 30-year-old male Mexican citizen for a secondary inspection.  CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of the vehicle and discovered packages hidden within the vehicle that contained $91,708 in unreported currency.

CBP officers seized the currency and the vehicle. CBP officers arrested the driver and turned him over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., however, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they will need to report it to CBP. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, traveler’s checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

Did CBP take your money?

If CBP took your money, you can learn more 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 proposes electronic notice of liquidation

A few years ago, U.S. Customs & Border Protection began posting notice of property seizures and their intent to forfeit the property on forfeiture.gov. Previously, CBP posted those notices at the customhouse and in newspaper publications.

Physical Posting of Bulletin Notices of Liquidation

Similarly, anytime an entry was liquidated CBP had to post the bulletin notices of liquidation in paper format at the port office, historically called the customhouse.  Liquidation is the legal event which finalizes the amount of duties owed to CBP. To protest an entry (that is, officially challenge customs rate, duty, value, etc.), a protest must be filed within 180 days of liquidation. Thus, for an importer or their customs lawyer, knowing the exact date of liquidation is extremely important.

In addition to posting the bulletin notices of liquidation at the customhouse, CBP would provide courtesy notices of liquidation or notices of suspension or extension of liquidation, by mail.

Proposed rules mark an end of physical posting of bulletin notices of liquidation

CBP is updating this antiquated method of providing official notice of the liquidation of an entry. It will instead be posting those notices to their website, www.cbp.gov, in searchable format. This will be a tremendous benefit to importers, and their customs attorneys, who typically had to physically go to the port office and inspect, or in most cases – request to inspect, pages of information to locate a single entry and its date of liquidation, if they need to know the date of liquidation for protesting an entry.

CBP is taking this action by proposing to update it’s regulations, with comments due by November 14, 2016. You can read all about this proposed rulemaking by reading the entry in the Federal Register.

This is a change that this customs lawyer welcomes, with open arms.