$50,000 Currency Seizure at Brownsville Port

We republish below a recent money seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which was effected in Brownsville, as follows:

On June 13, 2013, CBP officers working outbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria as it attempted to exit the United States and enter Mexico. The driver, a 24 year-old United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas was referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, a search of the Crown Victoria resulted in the discovery of six packages of bulk U.S. currency [$50,000] hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the 50k Currency Seizure Brownsville Port currency; the driver has been transferred into the custody of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

“Persistence and dedication in outbound enforcement inspections are critical to our efforts of keeping undeclared currency form being exported without meeting proper reporting requirements. I commend our CBP officers for an outstanding seizure and arrest in this alleged bulk currency smuggling case,” said Michael Freeman, CBP Port Director, Brownsville.

Little detail is given, but as with we could give the man the benefit of the doubt and presume the legitimate source is the proceeds of a life insurance policy of a beloved family member; and the intended use, perhaps he was paying cash for a nice place in the American ex-pat community of Merida. That’s just my guess, and yes, I have handled stranger cases. Maye he was just hiding the money (also called smuggling) to protect it from imagined theieves as he crosses the border into Mexico.

If we assume he proves these two things, then this situation is regrettable for him and completely avoidable. But now, even if criminal charges are ultimately not filed or if he is ultimately found not guilty of a crime, he will still face civil forfeiture of the money and, if he wants it back, will have to fight for its return administratively, or in the courts.

That brings me to the next point: If you have had currency seized from Customs, do not go it alone. Get the advice of an attorney who knows what he is doing. If you do not, you might only make the situation worse by handling it on your own or hiring a lawyer who doesn’t regularly handle these cases.

If you have other questions about currency seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?

If you have considered your options and decide in you want to hire an lawyer, or have other questions, please contact us by clicking here – it’s almost never too late to get a lawyer involved. We will be happy to answer any questions you have and explain the process to you.