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.

 

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.

Bulk cash hidden in the vehicle panels seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes Money Going into Mexico

20 stacks of new U.S. currency seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for smuggling and failure to report cash to customs
CBP in Lukeville Arizona seized $38,000 of concealed currency heading into Mexico.

Here’s a quick story about a money seizure that happened when someone was going into Mexico earlier this week.CBP seized almost $40k in cash that was hidden in the interior panel of a van in Lukeville, Arizona. The driver was a 31 year old Mexican man. Here’s the brief story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a 31-year-old Mexican man Saturday after finding $38,000 of unreported U.S. currency concealed in a quarter panel of his Ford van.

Officers seized the money and vehicle, and turned the driver over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Every once in a while a seizure like this is not connected to the drug trade. I’ve represented people who’ve had cash seized crossing the border with Mexico who hid it in the vehicle just to keep it safe. In a case like this, even if the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use the person involved is still responsible for a bulk cash smuggling violation. The consequences of that include forfeiture (permanent loss) of all the money, fines, and jail time. The best case scenario would be no criminal charges, and a return of most of the money.

Have you had money seized going into Mexico?

If you had money seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection going into Mexico 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.

$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. Money Seized by Customs (CBP) Stacked on a Table with Envelopes

CBP Seizes Money for Currency Reporting Violations at Dulles & BWI Airports

CBP seizes more than $32,000 for currency reporting violations at Dulles and BWI airport last week. The news release reveal the travelers were a U.S. citizen and a Nigerian citizen, and were involved in two separate currency reporting incidents.

Before getting into the details, the news release explains:

“Federal currency reporting requirements are simple.  International travelers can carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States, but they must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.”

All true, except the reporting requirement applies to “more than $10,000” not “$10,000 or greater.” The story gives some good details on each of the seizures cases:

On Friday, CBP officers seized $13,821 from a Nigerian citizen at BWI.  He reported to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000.  During a secondary examination, CBP officers discovered British pounds concealed inside a carry-on bag.  The traveler then tossed a wad of rolled up currency on the examining table.  The currency, which consisted of dollars, pounds and Euros equaled $13,821.  CBP officers seized the currency and returned $500 to the traveler for humanitarian purposes.

“The traveler then tossed a wad of rolled up currency on the examining table” after reporting he had $9,000. The wad totaled $13,821. If this traveler had read our article about a case in Miami, he would have known that throwing money at CBP is not the same as reporting it.

The other incident reveals how unhelpful CBP can be at times.

On Thursday, CBP officers seized $18,578 from a U.S. citizen who arrived to Dulles on a flight from Dubai. She initially reported that she possessed $10,000. CBP officers found additional currency and checks during a secondary examination. CBP officers released $322 and two checks totaling $56 for humanitarian purposes.

$322 in humanitarian relief is pretty good. But $56 in two checks? I’ve had clients left with nothing after a seizure. Not even enough change to pay for a baggage cart. I can imagine how grateful this person was to receive two checks that totaled $56. The real reason they returned the checks was because they weren’t worth much, and CBP did not want to go through the trouble of depositing them and including them as part of the seizure

If you had cash seized for a currency reporting violation, make use of our free customs money seizure legal guide or contact us for a free currency reporting violation consultation!

A overhead shot $43,000 mostly in $20 bills that was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection protection heading outbound to Mexico.

CBP Seized Hidden Cash from US Citizen in Texas

The CBP news release feed has been full of news about various enforcement actions on the immigration side of its mission, but with fewer news releases about currency reporting enforcement. Of course, there was the story about the smuggling of horse meat from Mongolia a few days ago.

There has not been much news about currency seizures, although we have noticed no downturn in cash seizure activity on the part of CBP…. but then CBP released this story out of Presidio, Texas, which is your run-of-the-mill bulk cash smuggling seizure that occurs at our border with Mexico.

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $43,514 Tuesday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the center console and air manifold of a pick-up truck.

CBP officers were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 5:25 p.m. a 2010 Ford F-150 pick-up driven by a 27-year-old U.S. citizen from Andrews, Texas, approached the checkpoint. The driver and vehicle were selected for an intensive inspection. During inspection of the vehicle the officers noticed anomalies in the appearance of the vehicle. Inspection of the center console revealed currency bundles wrapped in plastic bags hidden within. Further inspection of the vehicle led to more bundles hidden in the air filter housing and side dashboard panel. A total of nine bundles were removed from the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver to ICE HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt. He was arrested and federal prosecution accepted.

“CBP officers are working hard to stop the illegal movement of guns, ammunition and unreported currency,” said Michael Neipert, CBP Presidio port director “Travelers who do not follow federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency and may potentially face criminal charges.”

I am impressed that this was called what it was: a bulk cash smuggling seizure. As I’ve pointed out in the past, CBP often calls these failures to report cash; technically true, but not the most accurate name them.

CBP at JFK Seizes Cocaine in Beef Patties

We have our first stupid smuggling attempt of 2017. In a story similar to one we blogged about 3 years ago where CBP at JFK Seized Cocaine in Meat, another traveler thought it would be a good idea to hide some cocaine in some beef patties from Jamaica. I again explain: it is basically impossible to import meat into the United States without getting advance permission from either the FDA, USDA, or both.

In other words, the smuggler tried to hide something illegal in something that was illegal. If you’re going to have any chance at success in smuggling, you would need to hide something illegal in something legal.

You should not hide something illegal in something illegal, and moreover, something that a dog is going to naturally gravitate toward, like meat.

Here is the full story:

JAMAICA, N.Y. — A traveler had more than a snack in her suitcase when she arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.  Fortunately, U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers were there to stop her in her tracks.

On January 17, CBP officers intercepted passenger Ms. Chantal Alecia Bedward, a citizen of Jamaica, arriving from Kingston, Jamaica.  During her examination, CBP officers discovered what appeared to be a box of Tastee Brand, Jamaican Beef Patties.  CBP officers escorted Ms. Bedward to a private search room where the box of beef patties was opened revealing 12 duct-taped packages.  The packages were probed producing a white powder that tested positive for cocaine.

Ms. Bedward was arrested for the importation of a controlled substance and was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  The approximate gross weight of cocaine seized was 4 lbs.

$211k Cash Seized by CBP laid out on a table in stacks

$211k Cash Seized by Nogales CBP

CBP has been busy seizing cash across the country, and that is the reason my customs law blogging activity has slowed down in recent weeks. For the many readers of this blog who like these posts, I apologize. I’ll be trying to return to more frequent blogging in the next week or so.

It seems CBP has also been too busy to make many news releases about the seizure activity, too. But, today, we have word of a pretty huge seizure of $211,000 in cash being seized from a Mexican national while leaving the United States.

From the story below, it was more than just a seizure for a failure to report — but also for bulk cash smuggling. Here is the story, with scant details, but with a picture:

Customs and Border Protection officers at the Mariposa crossing in Nogales, Arizona, arrested a Mexican national Friday for attempting to transport almost $211,000 in unreported U.S. currency.

Officers conducting routine outbound inspections referred a 45-year-old man from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, for an inspection of his Chevrolet truck and found the currency in the vehicle’s dashboard.

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

 

Money hidden in a traveler's bag that was not reported is photographed by CBP after seizure.

CBP Seizes $86,000 Smuggled in Houston

CBP announced the seizure of around $86,000 in cash from a man in Houston. The seizure took place on December 7, and, sounds like a very unfortunate incident for the man whose cash was seized. In this case, he is a Peruvian national and it sounds like he was only in the United States for a layover on his trip from Japan.

While at the Bush Intercontinental Airport, he went through Customs (presumably to do some more duty-free shopping) when he was taken for a secondary inspection to pay taxes on some cigarettes. For whatever reason, CBP supposedly explained the currency reporting requirement to him and he declared only $4,000.

Apparently, he had keys to some other luggage on his person. CBP located the luggage that those keys belonged to and inspected it, and lo and behold, discovered $86,000 hidden within 8 packages of photo paper. A picture of that concealment is included. Here’s the story:

HOUSTON— U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) seized over $86,000 from a traveler en route to Peru.

A Peruvian national, arriving from Japan, was referred to secondary for duty collection on cigarettes.  CBP officers explained the currency reporting requirements and the traveler declared $4,000, Dec. 7.

A baggage exam revealed keys to additional luggage, which the traveler claimed were in Peru.  The luggage was located and inspected, at which time CBP officers discovered $100 bills lined within eight packages of photo paper totaling $80,000. An envelope containing over $2,400 was also discovered.  In total, CBP seized more than $86,000.

“Travelers have no limit to the amount of currency they can bring into or take out of the U.S.; however, they are required by U.S. law to report if they are carrying $10,000 or more,” said Port Director Charles Perez.  “When travelers refuse to comply with federal reporting requirements, they face the risk of having the currency seized and possible civil and or criminal penalties assessed.”

Now, the link provided by CBP is to their own Q&A about currency reporting requirements. Frankly, the advice given their is more or less accurate, except that the law requires a report of more than $10,000, not $10,000 or more. It’s a difference of a penny but that’s the law, so CBP gets it partially wrong.

No word on whether or not this traveler was arrested, but likely they would have mentioned that fact if it was the case with this bulk cash smuggling seizure — money concealed with the apparent intention to not file the currency report. Did this traveler have that intent? Hmm, a tough call — a great argument could be made that he did not!