CBP Seizes Money Over $2M; Why You Need A Lawyer

Sometimes people ask if they should hire a customs lawyer to get their money back that was seized by customs or if they can do it themselves. There’s a lot of great reasons why you should hire our firm, but one of them is that we know the law: you may not know the law, and oftentimes, as this article shows, customs does not know the law. The blind lead the blind off a cliff. A perfect example is that near the bottom of this story customs states that the law requires that a person file a formal report of “$10,000 or higher” into or out of the United States. That is incorrect. The law requires reports of more than $10,000. 

Let’s get on to this story of a bulk cash smuggler and currency seizure case in Puerto Rico that netted CBP more than 2 million (original here):customs money seizure

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting ferry outbound operations at the San Juan Seaport seized more than $2 million Monday evening. The money was found in hidden compartments inside a truck [note: bulk cash smuggling] that was leaving Puerto Rico en route to the Dominican Republic onboard M/V Caribbean Fantasy ferry.

CBP personnel selected a truck with Puerto Rico license plates for an intensive examination after a preliminary non-intrusive inspection revealed certain anomalies. Subsequently a physical inspection revealed 22 bundles of hidden US Currency for an amount of $2,044,375. CBP officers seized the currency and took custody of the driver. He was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE- HSI) special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt and the US Attorney’s Office accepted the case for federal prosecution.

“CBP Officers conduct outbound examinations of passengers and cargo leaving the country in an effort to stop guns, ammunition and unreported currency from being smuggled out of the country. Their diligence paid off in this enforcement action,” said Juan Hurtado, San Juan Area port director. “The unreported cash [note: smuggled more than unreported!] that we seize has an impact on the criminal organizations by making it more difficult for them to further their illicit activities.”

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S.  However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher [note: see below], they must formally report the currency to CBP. Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

Having an attorney is especially important if more than one person was traveling and the seizure was of cash, there are allegations of smuggling, or structuring, or if you experienced a lengthy detention or questioning at the time of seizure. We handle this and many other types of cases, which we publish the results of here.  Read our popular article on responding to a currency seizure by clicking HERE.