Amending a customs declaration? No baloney!

Bologna placed under the rear seat of a vehicle was made part of an amended customs declaration

An interesting story about a seizure for meat (bologna/baloney) from Mexico presents an opportunity for me to talk about amending customs declarations. In this case, an amendment to a customs declaration by someone entering the US from Mexico was literally a bunch of baloney:

The seizure was made at approximately 9:00 a.m. at the Bridge of the Americas international crossing after a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado with New Mexico license plates entered the port from Mexico.

The driver initially made a negative declaration for any agriculture products however, during a secondary exam, the driver amended his declaration and told CBP agriculture specialists that he had multiple rolls of bologna under the rear seat of his vehicle.

CBP agriculture specialist discovered and seized the contraband meat, and then destroyed the product. The driver was released.

Within CBP regulations, it is said that before examination of baggage begins an amended declaration is allowed if “the fact that the article has not been declared is brought to the attention of the examining officer by the passenger.” If examination of the baggage has already begun an amendment to the customs declaration is allowed “if, before any undeclared article is found, the passenger advises the examining officer that he has such an article and the officer is satisfied there was no fraudulent intent.” 19 CFR 148.16(a) and (b).

So technically speaking, to allow amending the customs declaration CBP would have had to be “satisfied” that by placing the bologna under his seat “there was no fraudulent intent.” Hmm? I guess you have to put that much bologna somewhere, and it just won’t all fit in plain view? Look at the picture and you be the judge.

Incidentally, United States v. Cowden, 677 F.2d 417 (8th Cir. 1982), the 8th circuit court of appeals applied this same right to amend a declaration to currency reporting requirements under 31 USC 5316, and stated “[i]t is manifestly unfair . . . once a passenger has requested to amend his declaration, to forbid amendment.