Image of Canadian and US cash seized by CBP at Massena NY by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Officers at Massena Seize $24,000 in Unreported Currency

Customs officers seize cash at land-border crossings just like they seize cash at airports; whether air, land, or sea, Customs has authority to seize unreported, structured, or smuggled cash. It happens at large ports (like San Diego-Tijuana), but also at smaller, sleepier, less densely populated ports, like the Massena Port of Entry in New York (pop. 12,883).

Here’s the full story, with my comments in red, from CBP:

On September 27, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers at the Massena Port of Entry seized approximately $24,000 from a Cambodian citizen who violated the federal currency reporting requirements.

During a secondary examination, the traveler was asked if they had any currency to declare and stated they only possessed pocket change.  [That it was secondary inspection means they already had a chance to declare the cash, but did not.]During the vehicle inspection, a large amount of currency was discovered in the center console of the vehicle. Additionally, it was revealed that the traveler had also concealed more currency within their front trouser waistband. [Combined with a failure to report, the cash being concealed within the console and wasitband will allow Customs to presume it was hidden with intent to smuggle it.]The undeclared currency was a combination of U.S. and Canadian funds and totaled approximately $24,000 U.S. dollars after currency conversion.

“This currency seizure illustrates the importance of travelers complying with all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting regulations, and also highlights the consequences of noncompliance,” said Port Director Robert Dwyer.  “Currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continued commitment to enforce all U.S. laws at our nation’s borders.”

The undeclared currency was seized pursuant to Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5317 for violation of Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5316, failing to declare over $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments. [No mention of 31 USC 5332, the bulk cash smuggling statute. But, often these news releases are not as precise as the actual notice of seizure]. The traveler was subsequently refused admission to the U.S. and returned to Canada. [The traveler is lucky s/he did not also get arrested, as concealing and not reporting cash is punishable as a crime, in addition to seizure of the cash itself.]

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States. Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments to declare this to a CBP officer at an airport, seaport, or land border crossing where they enter or leave the country.

Have you had cash seized by Customs in New York?

The process of getting seized cash from Customs in New York back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If CBP 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.

USMCA; United States Mexico Canada Agreement

The re-negotiation (and renaming) of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is one step closer to completion, and will go forward to be finalized by the governments of the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

The newly renamed agreement is the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMC Agreement), and the full text of the agreement is now available. The United States Trade Representative’s office has posted a series of fact sheet with key points of the new agreement.

The White House issued its own fact sheet: President Donald J. Trump Secures A Modern, Rebalanced Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico

President Trump held a news conference on the topic of the trade agreement. You can watch the conference by following this link on C-Span.

 

A September 28 2018 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Detroit Metro airport.

Detroit Metro Airport Customs Money Seizure; September 28 2018

Today Customs published a notice of all property seized by Customs that is currently pending administrative forfeiture proceedings, as they do each week on forfeiture.gov.  Some weeks, the forfeiture notices for Detroit Metro Airport are uninteresting; some weeks they are interesting, but don’t involve cash.

But this week, the notice is not necessarily as interesting as last week’s 3-days-to-forfeiture post last week, but it is nevertheless loaded with 4 separate cash seizures with a total value of $90,138.36. In fact, it only has cash seizures. Have a look:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: September 28, 12018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: October 28, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: November 27, 2018

DETROIT

2018380700090101-0001-0000, Seized on 04/30/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 202; EA; Valued at $15,127.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316

2018380700090101-0002-0000, Seized on 04/30/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; EURO RETAINED; 7; EA; Valued at $263.36; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316

2018380700118001-0001-0000, Seized on 07/14/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 395; EA; Valued at $34,042.00; For violation of 31 USC 5332(c), 31 USC 5332(a), 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(A)

2018380700121501-0001-0000, Seized on 07/23/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; US Currency Retained; 193; EA; Valued at $19,300.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(A)

2018380700125701-0001-0000, Seized on 08/07/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 235; EA; Valued at $21,406.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(B)

All these cases are from seizures that occurred between April and August, 2018. That probably means that someone has tried, and failed, to get the money back by filing an administrative petition. Some people (some of them lawyers), think it’s very easy to get seized cash back from Customs at Detroit Metro airport.

And it can be, if you know what you’re doing. But if you’ve had cash seized by Customs, I can gaurantee you that you don’t know what you’re doing. A customs cash seizure is totally avoidable. So if you’ve had it ceased, you really should not try to help yourself.

Have you had a customs money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport?

If you have a customs money seizure at Detroit Metro airport, don’t do it yourself. Cash seizure cases are often packed with with difficulties and unforeseen challenges. Instead of risking forfeiture and the total loss of your money, do the smart thing and call us for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of the free customs money seizure legal guide we publish on this website.

Pile of cash totaling more than $600,000 seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Brownsville, Teas

Brownsville CBP Seizes $644,285 in Cash

Everything — including CBP cash seizures — are bigger in Texas. Case in point: Last week, CBP officers in Brownsville, Texas, seized more than a half-million in cash from two forty-ish year old U.S. citizens who were heading to Mexico.

The facts in these cases always lead me to believe the currency was being moved as part of the illegal drug trade, and that the men moving the money were likely mules just moving the cash from the sale of drugs made by others, back to the shippers in Mexico. The men picked are likely picked because they do not arouse suspicion, and so CBP should get all the more credit for making a huge seizure such as this.

Here’s the full story (original here) on this mega-cash seizure from Brownsville CBP.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge Port of Entry seized $644,285 in unreported bulk U.S. currency and more than $17,000 in cocaine in separate, unrelated enforcement actions.

“Our CBP officers did an outstanding job in taking down this significant load of bulk currency . . . ” said Port Director Tater Ortiz, Brownsville Port of Entry. “Their vigilance and experience were key factors in their successful interceptions.”

The . . . seizure took place on Wednesday, Sept. 5, when CBP officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 42-year-old male United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas, and a 40-year-old male United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas, and a passenger in the same vehicle who were selected for a routine outbound inspection.  With the aid of a non-intrusive inspection system and canine unit, CBP officers discovered multiple packages of bulk U.S. currency totaling $644,285 hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the currency and narcotics, arrested the travelers and turned them over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Has Brownsville CBP taken your cash?

If Brownsville CBP has taken your cash, please call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

$100 Dollar Bills Slider

ICE arrests reggaeton singer for bulk cash smuggling

No one is exempt from the requirement to report more than $10,000 to CBP upon entering or leaving the United States, and other customs territories (which includes Puerto Rico). Earlier this year, Customs seized $51,802 from a reggaeton singer who goes by the stage name Farruko. Not only was the money seized, but the Farruko was arrested.

Basically, Farruko flew via helicopter from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico with more than $50,000. Upon his arrival in Puerto Rico, he completed the standard customs form on which he denied traveling with more than $10,000. However, CBP searched his bag and found cash, including some hidden in “the soles of his shoes.”

Presumably, the money was seized the same day (though the story does not so state); the next day, HSI agents obtained an arrest warrant and also arrested the singer for, presumably, bulk cash smuggling and failure to file a currency report.

The full story, originally HERE, is as follows:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A reggaeton singer was arrested Tuesday in Bayamon for failure to declare transportation of monetary instruments more than $10,000 and for bulk cash smuggling into the United States. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On April 2, Carlos Efrén Reyes-Rosado, aka Farruko, 27, traveled by helicopter from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. When Reyes-Rosado filled out the CBP 6059B customs declaration form, he indicated that he was not carrying more than $10,000.

HSI special agents initially detained him at the Isla Grande airport in San Juan after a search of his bags revealed that he was carrying approximately $51,802 in U.S. currency in his luggage and in the soles of his shoes in his bags.

On April 3, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin authorized a criminal complaint and issued an arrest warrant against Reyes-Rosado. HSI special agents arrested him the same day.

Reyes-Rosado had his preliminary hearing before McGiverin Wednesday.

[ . . . ]

Assistant U.S. Attorney María L. Montañez oversees the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendant faces a fine of no more than $250,000; five years in prison, or both; and forfeiture of the property involved in the offense.

Have you had bulk cash seized?

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 CBP seized bulk 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 San Juan Seizes $844,000 Smuggled in TVs

This year, United States Customs & Border Protection officers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, made a staggering cash seizure of $844,000 that being exported from the Puerto Rico (a territory, therefore, within the customs territory of the United States).

Though the story is lacking in many details, it appears the vehicle was being exported from Puerto Rico to destinations unknown, when Customs officers became suspicious about it for some reason. They pulled the vehicle aside for closer examination, and discovered 16 smart TV boxes.

After imaging the boxes, they opened them up and “bundles containing US currency appeared.” That’s how the story puts it (was the cash hidden inside the boxes like a jack-in-the-box?).

Otherwise, the story – though published through another media outlet and available for reading here — appears to hew closely to the standard CBP news release narrative, including a disclaimer that it is OK for travelings to carry more than $10,000 into or out of the country, but it must be reported. This is confusing, especially because the story makes no factual assertion that the money was carried by a traveler.

 

CBP Officers Seize $13,000 in Arizona

Customs seized $13,000 in money, and arrested, a Yuma, Arizona resident. The man was traveling on a shuttle from Phoenix and was leaving for Mexico.

Because the man did not declare the money as required by 31 USC 5316 (reports of currency), Customs seized the money from the man. As we strive to explain on this customs law blog, importing and exporting more than $10,000 in money is not illegal if the money is reported (preferably on form FinCen105) to Customs prior to attempting to enter or leave the country.

The story, quoted below, does not indicate the man was arrested (although he could have been, as not reporting cash is a crime), but only “turned . . . over to” HSI agents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a Yuma resident after seizing more than $13,000 in undeclared currency Friday.

Officers performing outbound inspections of an arriving shuttle from Phoenix referred a 24-year-old man for further inspection when a search of his luggage led to suspicion. Officers discovered multiple envelopes inside of a backpack with a cash count of more than $13,200.

Customs and Border Protection officers seized the currency, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Have you failed to report money to Customs?

If you failed to report money to Customs and had the cash seized, your rights may have been violated and you can try to get the money back. In most cases, filing an administrative petition for relief or a CAFRA seized asset claim to initiate judicial proceedings is the best way to get your seized cash back from Customs. For more information, reading our customs money seizure legal guide and give us a call!

A September 7 2018 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Detroit Metropolital airport.

Detroit Airport Cash Forfeiture Notices: September 7 2018

Last Friday, Customs published a notice for cash that was seized at Detroit airport only 3 days earlier, on September 4. We, at Great Lakes Customs Law, monitor these notices on a weekly basis because, inevitably, we need them to help our clients who have been forced to abandon cash.

This notice seems highly unusual, as it usually takes several days for information to get from the CBP officers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the administrative and enforcement wing of CBP — Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures (FP&F) office — at the McNamara Federal Building. Even after it is delivered to FP&F, I strongly suspect that it takes a few days to overcome bureacratic inertia and get it over to the people at forfeiture.gov (which, I believe, is run by the DOJ).

Here’s the text of the relevant notice:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: September 07, 2018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: October 07, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: November 06, 2018

DETROIT

2018380700135201-0001-0000, Seized on 09/04/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 527; PC; Valued at $48,777.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(B)

It is very curious to me that this seizure and the publication of the intent to forfeit was “fast-tracked” in a matter of only 3 days between seizure and publication. UPDATE: I’ve since corresponded with the individual whose money was seized in this case and have confirmed they were coerced into abandoning the cash to avoid jail, and delay.

Is Detroit CBP forfeiting your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized and is forfeiting your cash, you have rights to get your cash back. 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.
Piles of cash sit atop evidence bags after seizure by U.S. Customs in Brownsville, Texas

Customs Seizes $46,536 in Bulk Cash at B&M Bridge

Earlier this year, CBP officers in Brownsville, Texas, seized a lot of money from a a pedestrian who was leaving the United States for Mexico, although the man was a Mexican national. Cash seizures by Customs officials at the land border between the United States in Mexico in such a large a mount are usually connected with the illegal drug trade.

That’s just one reason why traveling with $46,000, by foot to Mexico, is more suspicious than flying with $46,000 from Hong Kong to Las Vegas for a trip.

The Customs officers who seized the cash search him, and discovered “multiple packages” of bulk cash that totaled more than $46,000. The cash was seized, and the man was arrested (hint: bulk cash smuggling is a crime). Traveling with money out of the country is not illegal, but traveling with more than $10,000 out of the country and not reporting it to CBP is illegal, and will very likely result in seizure of the money.

The full story follows:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge Port of Entry this weekend seized $46,536 in bulk, unreported U.S. currency.

“Our officer’s constant vigilance and experience made this currency seizure possible,” said Port Director Tater Ortiz, Brownsville Port of Entry.

The seizure took place on Sunday, Mar. 18, when CBP officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 22-year-old male Mexican citizen from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, who was selected for a routine outbound inspection. CBP officers conducted a visual and physical search of the bags the traveler was carrying which resulted in the discovery of multiple packages of bulk U.S. currency totaling $46,536 hidden within the bags.

CBP officers seized the currency, arrested the traveler and turned him over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Have you had bulk cash 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 CBP seized bulk 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.

Cash seized by CBP in Dulles airport for failure to report laid out on a table with Homeland Security logo

CBP Seizes $170k from 7 Travelers at Dulles

Dulles CBP does it again, and again.. and again, again, again, and again, and… again. That is, they sezied almost $170,000 in cash at Dulles airport for not reporting cash to Customs before leaving the country.

The 7 cash seizures by Customs range over a 2 week period, from July 13 to August 1. Travelers were Cash seized by Customs not reported and hidden in a bag at Dulles airporttaking cash to Belgium, Ghana, Turkey, Qatar, and Serbia. In each case, the travelers were stopped by CBP before boarding their plan and incorrectly reported the amount of money they were traveling, when asked.

Note that, if you’re boarding your flight and you haven’t already made the report, even if you make an accurate report when stopped, you’ve already committed the violation of failure to report. Also, in these cases, not filing the report is only one of the potential charges; additionally, the money could be seized for bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses, leading to a higher penalty. Worse yet, CBP can criminally indict any person for bulk cash smuggling, structuring, failing to report, and also making false statements to federal officials (i.e., reporting the wrong amount of money).

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $169,431 during seven recent violations of federal currency reporting laws at Washington Dulles International Airport.

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States.  Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing where they enter or leave the country.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, as illustrated by the following cases, and subjected to potential criminal charges.

  • CBP officers seized $21,735 from a Cameroon woman and son boarding a flight to Belgium August 1.  The family reported $9,700.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $735 to the family for humanitarian purposes and released the family.
  • CBP officers seized $30,721 from a U.S. man boarding a flight to Ghana July 30.  The man verbally reported $9,000 then wrote down that he possessed $11,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in white envelopes in a carry-on bag. Officers released $721 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $26,177 from a U.S. family boarding a flight to Turkey July 29.  The family reported $21,000.  Officers discovered additional currency concealed inside children’s socks and in cell phone cases. Officers released $1,177 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $34,585 from a U.S. man and his Ghanaian wife boarding a flight to Ghana July 23.  The couple reported that they each possessed $10,000.  Officers discovered additional currency during an inspection.  Officers released $1,585 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $18,390 from a U.S. couple boarding a flight to Turkey July 21.  The couple reported $9,090.  Officers discovered additional currency in an envelope in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $20,645 from a U.S. man and his Jordanian wife boarding a flight to Qatar July 19.  The couple reported $14,020.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in the woman’s purse.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $17,178 from a Kosovo woman boarding a flight to Serbia July 13.  The woman reported $8,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in luggage and carry-on bags.  Officers released $1,578 to the woman for humanitarian purposes and released the family.

In each case, CBP officers read the federal reporting requirements to the travelers and solicited their understanding of the law.  Officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency they possessed, both verbally and in writing.

“Customs and Border Protection outbound inspections protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or that fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “These currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

Dulles is one of the more aggressive ports when it comes to seizures, penalties, and criminal indictments. If you’ve had money seized by Customs, you should hire a lawyer.