Category: Failure to Declare

CBP Seizes $310,000 for Failure to Declare Currency

While most of our currency seizure clients are have their money taken from customs at an airport, we ocasionally represent people who have had their money seized at a border crossing, such as the Ambassador Bridge or the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel. In this story from CBP, Customs seized over $300,000 from a middle aged Mexican couple who were returning to Mexico. In the vehicle, inside a microwave, they found the stash. This is a class case of bulk cash smuggling, and is no doubt the reason for the seizure. The story does not specifically mention if they were arrested or charged with a crime, but the government has 5 years to do so.

Discovered packages hidden in a microwave oven in the vehicle that contained $309,220 in unreported currency.
CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of the vehicle and discovered packages hidden in a microwave oven in the vehicle that contained $309,220 in unreported currency.

The interception occurred on Sunday, Sept. 27 while CBP officers and Border Patrol agents conducting outbound (southbound) inspections at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge referred a 2013 Chevy Aveo driven by a 42-year-old male Mexican citizen with a 51-year-old female Mexican citizen passenger for a secondary inspection. CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of the vehicle and discovered packages hidden in a microwave oven in the vehicle that contained $309,220 in unreported currency.

CBP officers seized the currency and the Chevy Aveo. CBP officers turned over the driver and passenger to Homeland Security Investigations (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 you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. 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. 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?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

Customs officers seize hidden cash

Last month, CBP seized $65,000 from a Mexican national for “failing to declare” more than $65,000 in currency. They released the individual’s name, so that means he is being criminally prosecuted. Though CBP calls this a “failure to declare” it is really failure to declare (or to report) and bulk cash smuggling, because the money was concealed in the seat of the vehicle. Check out the image below. As we always note, this case differs from the scenario usually faced by our clients, which is a customs seizure of money at the airport for failure to report.

Customs officers seize hidden cash behind automobile seat.
Customs officers seize hidden cash behind automobile seat, totaling more than $65,000 in US currency.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a 24-year-old Mexican national Wednesday (July 22) for failing to declare more than $65,000 in U.S. currency when he attempted to cross into Mexico through the Port of Nogales.

Officers conducting outbound inspections at the Dennis DeConcini crossing selected a Ford sedan, driven by Marco Allan Nevarez-Guzman of Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, for further inspection and found unreported money hidden behind the vehicle’s seats.

Officers processed the vehicle and currency for seizure, arrested and referred Nevarez to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. 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. 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?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

Failure to Declare Jewelry at Chicago Customs

Recently, customs in Chicago made a large seizure of jewelry from an arriving passenger for a failure to declare jewelry that was purchased abroad. The full story, which I quote below, is a lesson in the penalties for violations of 19 USC 1497, which is the law that allows seizures and penalties for a passenger’s failure to declare jewelry and other imported merchandise.

We have written more extensively on what a failure to declare is, and what the consequences are, at this link: Failure to declare under 19 USC 1497.

This failure to declare will prove to be a costly mistake. There are three things the importer must do to get out of this mess:

  1. Pay the original duties ($30,043.75)
  2. Pay any penalty levied (maximum $691,553)
  3. Get the jewelry back (petition for remission after the notice of seizure)

The penalty will, no doubt, be issued for the full amount allowed by law which is the value of the seized property. The importer will have 60 days to either pay the full penalty or request a penalty reduction based on customs mitigation guidelines for failure to declare. Those guidelines basically state that for commercial violations of this type he should end up paying anywhere from 3 to 8 times the duty that was owed. That means somewhere between $90,000 and $240,000.

If ever I saw a person in dire need of a customs lawyer, this is it. If you’re out there and reading this give me a call at (734) 855-4999.

CHICAGO —U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport seized a cache of jewelry worth almost $700,000 on Thursday. A 65-year-old U.S. citizen was selected for examination by CBP officers as he arrived from Paris via a flight London.

The passenger claimed nothing on his Automated Passport Control (APC) declaration, his written declaration and confirmed to CBP officers that he had not made any purchases or acquisitions on his trip. Upon examination of his baggage, CBP officers noticed receipts for various boxes containing what appeared to be high end jewelry, invoices and receipts. Some lose jewelry was discovered concealed in pockets of articles of clothing within his luggage. A total of 29 high value jewelry pieces were identified.

Upon discovery of the jewelry, the passenger provided CBP officers with the values of each item and stated that he works as jewelry distributor in the United States. Computer checks indicated that the passenger has imported jewelry in the past on several occasions.

The total estimated domestic value of all 29 items is $691,553. The jewelry was seized under 19 USC 1497, failure to declare. The passenger faces a maximum penalty equal to the domestic value of the undeclared merchandise and forfeiture of the jewelry. Had the passenger made a proper declaration, he would have paid $30,043.75 in duty.

As mentioned above, the importer can respond to customs’ notice of seizure and the subsequent notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to return the property and reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely. If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government may bring a lawsuit against them in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

If you had a failure to declare jewelry to Customs or had other property seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. Once your merchandise is seized, Customs may issue a penalty for the violation of law itself. If you have received a notice of penalty from U.S. Customs call our office immediately to discuss the possibility of filing a petition to reduce the penalty amount.

We are able to assist petitions and in seizures by customs nationwide.