CBP Cash Seizure Trends Change

Picture of what the cash seized at Dulles airport looked similar to.

CBP cash seizure trends change over the years. For example, a recent money seizure at Dulles Airport tells me that Dulles CBP seems to be ramping up enforcement of the currency reporting requirement. As with the most recent stories we’ve put up on this customs law blog, this story likewise involves person traveling to Africa — a report of $18,000 was made, but the amount he transported actually was $28,518.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized $28,518 Monday from a U.S. citizen for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

A man, who is a resident of Georgia, was boarding a flight to Ethiopia and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on the international flight.  The man completed a financial form, reporting $18,000 however; a total of $28,518 was discovered on his person and in his luggage.  CBP officers seized the $28,518 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.

The fact that many cash seizures at Dulles have occurred to people traveling to and from Africa is interesting (to us, anyway); because as populations shift, market demands change, airlines change routes, add new destinations, or go in-and-out of business, so to do enforcement opportunities by CBP.

With an improving African economy, more cash goes to and from the country. What is true now about people traveling to Africa was not true in the 1970s, and may not be true in the 2030s. Enforcement may shift with shifting immigrant populations. For example, if China’s economy is on the brink of collapse, Chinese nationals are going to try to get their cash out of the country. That means heightened cash seizure opportunities by CBP at every international airport where those flights will land.

For example, a few years back there was a big spike in cash seizures from Mongolians at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The reason for the cash seizure trend changing was was an improving Mongolian economy and convenient flights between Chicago O’Hare International airport and Ulaanbataar, Mongolia.

You should go back and read our blog posts about Chinese importing money into the United States and our popular article about targeted enforcement of customs money seizures for more information on this phenomenon.