CBP Cash Seizures and Enforcement Increase at Detroit Metro Airport

Hundred dollar bills seized by CBP in Detroit

A story that CBP in Detroit is increasing cash reporting enforcement at Detroit Metro Airport was all over the local news headlines last week (see here, and here), but because of it, I was not able to post and comment about it until now (yes, it’s busy).

CBP Detroit has released mid-(fiscal)-year statistics in the past, and they have done so again this year. They usually come around May (we commented on it in 2017, further back in 2015 and first in 2013).

Most of the seizures happen at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan. CBP Oficcers there are very active in seizing money. And for good reason: lot’s of people don’t report it, or for some reason, think it’s illegal to carry cash (it’s not!). There’s a lot of people traveling with cash there, because it’s an ethnically diverse area and a connecting hub for many flights where people tend to use cash: China, India, and the Middle East.

How much of a difference is this over past years, really? Well, here’s a summary of all data from this story and comparing it to those we wrote about in years past,

  • October 1, 2016 to May 2, 2017 = $4.4 million (2+ quarters)
  • October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015 = $10,067,095 (full year)
  • October 1, 2018 o March 31, 2019 = $3,852,252 (2 quarters)
  • October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 = $2,384,360 (2 quarters)

While we don’t have the exact data for an apples-to-apples comparison, it looks like Detroit CBP at Metro Airport is closely approximating the seizure activity of the their 2016-2017 fiscal year this year, when they seized $4.4 million by May 2.

We’ve definitely noticed an increase a clients reporting seized money from CBP, especially for this time of year. So far, our firm has handled 48 cases this fiscal year — and a total of 342 since 2012. We are by far the most experienced law firm to help get seized money back from Detroit Customs.

The original story can be read here, but is reproduced below:

ROMULUS, Mich. – During the first half of fiscal year 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers within the Detroit Field Office achieved a 62% increase in the seizure of unreported currency from international passengers as compared to the same period last year. A vast majority of the seizures occurred at Detroit Metro Airport.

Thus far in fiscal year 2019 starting October 1 and ending March 31, CBP has seized $3,852,262 in unreported currency from international travelers, this compares to $2,384,360 seized during the same time frame for fiscal year 2018.

CBP in conjunction with its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners, continues its efforts to prevent the unreported movement of currency through the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and other ports of entry within the Detroit Field Office.  

“This increase clearly demonstrates our continued commitment, and that of our partners, to protect the United States from proceeds of criminal activity,” said Devin Chamberlain, CBP Port Director at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Bulk cash smuggling is the act of concealing currency and/or reportable monetary instruments with the intent of evading currency reporting requirements, in an attempt to transfer or transport the currency or monetary instrument(s) across an international border.

While it is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, federal currency reporting requirements state that travelers must report currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more [Editor: This is wrong. It’s “more than $10,000”) to a CBP officer upon entry to or exit from the United States.  Failure to declare may result in the seizure of the currency, and possible arrest.  An individual may petition for the return of currency seized [Editor: Or file a claim, make an offer in compromise, etc.], but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.