CBP Seizes $475k Outbound to Mexico

In a classic “bulk cash smuggling” offense, CBP officers at the southern border seized nearly $500,000 in currency hidden in a box of diapers, trash bags, and bucket of paint. The incident resulted in a seizure of the vehicle and the currency, but it’s unclear if the driver and passenger were arrested.

Occasionally I’m asked if Customs can still seize your currency for any reason if you report it all? The answer is sure, if they have sufficient cause to believe that you are involved in a crime because of suspicious circumstances. Here, that is clear; normally, people do not travel with half million dollars in cash in a diaper box across the Mexico border. The story, with pictures, follows (original HERE):

Wrapped bundles of U.S. currency concealed inside random containers.
Officers discovered several wrapped bundles of U.S. currency concealed inside a box of diapers, a box of trash bags, and a five-gallon bucket of paint.

The incident occurred shortly before 4 p.m. on July 15, when CBP officers were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Calexico downtown border crossing. Officers targeted a 2005 Nissan Maxima and referred the driver, her female passenger, and vehicle for a more in-depth examination.

Officers utilized the port’s imaging system and discovered anomalies within merchandise stored in the Maxima’s trunk. A CBP detector dog alerted to the trunk, and officers discovered several wrapped bundles of U.S. currency concealed inside a box of diapers, a box of trash bags, and a five-gallon bucket of paint that were loaded inside.

Officers extracted 46 packages of cash from the vehicle’s trunk, yielding a total amount of $457,373. The 45-year-old driver and 21-year-old passenger, both U.S. citizens and residents of Los Angeles, were turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations agents for further processing.

CBP seized the vehicle and currency.

It is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. 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