CBP Seizes $34,685 in Unreported Currency in Puerto Rico

In another interesting news release, CBP reports on a monetary instrument/currency seizure that occured in Puerto Rico:

San Juan, Puerto Rico — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $34,685 in unreported currency last Thursday from a passenger arriving at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport from Venezuela.

Tetsuro Nakada, 64, of Florida, failed to accurately declare having in his possession $15,335 and seven (7) checks totaling $19,350.

Nakada provided incorrect information concerning the amount of money he was carrying to federal agents. CBP officers found an envelope with $12,000, another envelope inside a book with $3,335, and a small plastic bag with 7 checks totaling $19,350.

The currency was seized under bulk cash smuggling laws. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI ) special agents arrested Nakada and will proceed with an investigation.

“The unreported cash that we seize has an impact on criminal organizations by making it more difficult for them to further their illicit activities,” said Juan Hurtado, San Juan Area port director. “CBP officers remain vigilant generating important enforcement activity regularly.”

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the United States. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP. Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

It’s kind of reverse engineer the facts and figure out what went wrong here. Certainly, any misreport of the amount of monetary instruments, including cash and foreign currencies, is the most classic and simplest type of violation of the currency reporting requirements. In addition to a failure to report the correct amount of money (by how much we are not told), there is potentially a violation of a bulk cash smuggling laws for “concealing” the money in the envelope and in a book. Yes, that’s really as complicated as it needs to get in terms of concealment for the government to allege bulk cash smuggling; but, as I have previously discussed in another article about bulk cash smuggling, bulk cash smuggling must also show concealment with the intent to evade the reporting requirement.

However, as we discussed in another article on what monetary instruments need to be reported, not all types of checks are subject to the monetary instrument reporting requirement. I think the risk of carrying checks, even when not in bearer form could potentially be too risky to advise any client to do because the likely result will be an allegation of a structuring violation if you are trying to use use the checks to defeat the reporting requirement.

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

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