Tag: texas

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 Finds and Seizes $185k in Hidden Cash

CBP seized $185,000 in smuggled currency that was heading into Mexico out of Laredo, Texas, last week, in a story reported by CBP. The story has few details, but tells us that the money was apparently not hid too well because 16 bundles of currency were found after a “non-intrusive” inspection.

What we do now is that the cash and vehicle was seized, and the two individuals in the vehicle were arrested. The rest of the story consists of “boilerplate” statements about the role of CBP in inspecting passengers, seizing currency, and the currency reporting requirement.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to work outbound inspection operations at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge seized over $185,000 in U.S. currency in a single enforcement action over the weekend.

“CBP officers not only ensure that inbound travelers and cargo comply with U.S. laws and regulations but also conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S. and protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity,” said Port Director Gregory Alvarez, Laredo Port of Entry. “This weekend’s significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing federal currency reporting requirements.”

The seizure occurred on Saturday, April 29, when a CBP officer referred a 2007 Mitsubishi Endeavor for an intensive inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 34-year-old Mexican male citizen from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and a 33-year-old Mexican male citizen as a passenger also from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. A canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers resulted in the discovery of 16 packages containing $185,020 in U.S. currency.

CBP officers seized currency and vehicle. The driver and passenger were arrested and the case was then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-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, travelers’ 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.

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.

Stacks of bills totaling $163,130 in unreported currency seized by CBP officers at Hidalgo International Bridge

CBP Confiscates $163,130 Cash at Hidalgo Bridge

CBP officers recently seized a lot of cash — $163,130, to be exact — from a 34 year-old U.S. citizen from Yakima, Washington, who was attempting to leave the United States for Mexico in a taxi. In his baggage, CBP officers found 11 packages of cash. The money was not only not reported to customs, but it was also concealed. Here’s the full story:

On March 21, CBP officers at the Hidalgo International Bridge conducting outbound examinations encountered a 34-year-old man, a United States citizen from Yakima, Washington traveling in a taxi as he approached the exit lanes, heading towards Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico. After referring the taxi passenger for further inspection, officers discovered 11 packages concealed in his luggage containing a total of $163,130 in unreported currency.

“This was a great interception by our CBP officers,” said Port Director Severiano Solis, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “We would like to remind the traveling public that if they are transporting currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 that they need to declare the currency to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. Failure to declare currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 may result in seizure and/or arrest.”

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, travelers’ 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.

Again, this is not just a failure to report/declare cash, but also bulk cash smuggling. In most cases, if you’re hiding money you’re up to no good. But even if you have good intentions, the very act of hiding the money is itself illegal.

$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.

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.”

CBP in Laredo, Texas, seized more than $130,000 from 2 Mexican nationals return to Mexico

CBP Laredo Seizes > $130K in Cash

Last weekend, CBP officers in Laredo, Texas seized more than $130,000 from two Mexican nationals who were leaving the United States to return to Mexico. What is noteworthy about the story is that the money was apparently not smuggled in a hidden compartment within the vehicle, but was found during a “non-intrusive inspection” by CBP officers and a canine.

Here’s the news release:

LAREDO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to work outbound inspection operations at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge seized over $130,000 in U.S. currency in a single enforcement action over the weekend.

The seizure occurred on Sunday, Aug. 28, when a CBP officer referred a 2014 Volkswagen Vento for an intensive inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 33-year-old Mexican male from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and a 25-year-old Mexican male passenger also from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. A canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers resulted in the discovery of 13 packages containing $136,424 in U.S. currency.

“CBP officers not only ensure that inbound travelers and cargo comply with U.S. laws and regulations but also conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S. and protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity,” said Port Director Gregory Alvarez, Laredo Port of Entry. “This weekend’s significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing federal currency reporting requirements.”

The writer of the news release seems to indicate these people may be innocent of any crime; no names are revealed and the word “alleged” is used to describe “illegal activity.” That’s unusual because the story does say that both men were arrested and handed over to Homeland Security Investigations.

Has Laredo CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Laredo 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.

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.

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.

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.

CBP Seized Cash From Travelers in 2015

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) seized cash from travelers in lower numbers in 2015 compared to 2014. In its Border Security Report (which can be read in HERE), CBP says it “seized more than $129 million in unreported currency through targeted enforcement operations.” “Targeted enforcement operations” is just a fancy way of saying that they seized cash from travelers at a border crossing at an airport.

What is noteworthy is that CBP cash seizures from travelers is way down from last year – by about 54%. In 2014, the total amount of cash seized from travelers was $237 million. It breaks down the number for four southwest states:

  • Arizona = $2,102,688 (way down from $3,475,523 last year)
  • Texas = $9,171,935 (slightly up from $7,732,830 last year)
  • New Mexico = $975,880 (slightly up from $969,830 last year)
  • California = $7,739,869 (way down from $12,908,976 last year)

In 2013, CBP seized cash from travelers in the amount of about $106 million. So the numbers are less than last year’s staggering numbers — by a lot, but more in line with the totals from the year before last. It will be interesting to see what 2016 holds travelers who get their cash taken by CBP. We will not now until the beginning of CBP’s fiscal year, which starts on October 1, 2016.

We should also note that these numbers very likely include not only money seized for “unreported currency” but also for currency that was structured or part of a bulk cash smuggling offense.

CBP seized cash from travelers like you!

If CBP seized cash from travelers like 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.