Customs Airport Money Seizure of nearly $200k

Customs officers conducting currency seizures last week in Philadelphia were busy. As reported by customs, they seized currency totaling $188,830 from three different sets of  travelers arriving into the United States. Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country; call (734) 855-4999 to consult with a customs lawyer today.

The story told below is common among our currency seizure clients; their money was returned and they were not arrested, which indicates that customs did not suspect that the seized money was being transported as part of any criminal activity. In fact, the Iraqis who had their currency seized by customs were likely fleeing the escalating violence in Iraq and taking along with them their life savings, or a big chunk of it, to seek safety in the United States.

Here are the details from customs:

PHILADELPHIA — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a combined $188,830 during three federal currency reporting violations Monday through Wednesday at Philadelphia International Airport.

In the first seizure, a Ghanaian man, arrived Monday and reported that he possessed $9,400 in U.S. dollars and 80 Euros. During a baggage inspection, CBP officers discovered stacks of unreported U.S. Dollars, Euros and Ghana Cedi. CBP officers seized $39,500 and released the man.

In the second seizure, a couple from Iraqi, arrived Tuesday and reported that they possessed $10,000 in U.S. dollars and some Iraqi currency. During a baggage inspection, CBP officers discovered six bundles and loose currency of unreported U.S. Dollars, Iraqi Dinars and Qatari Riyal. CBP officers seized $111,000 and released the couple.

In the third seizure, a U.S. man and lawful permanent resident woman, arrived Wednesday and reported that they possessed a combined $15,000. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered three bundles of consecutively numbered $100 bills and additional U.S. currency. CBP officers seized $38,330 and released the couple.

There is no limit to how much currency travelers may bring to, or take from the U.S.; however, federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency. Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers permitted these travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency in their possession and they failed to comply. The easiest way to hold on to one’s currency is to truthfully report all of it to a CBP officer,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.

The Ghanaian man arrived from Frankfurt. The couples in the latter two cases arrived from Iraq via Qatar. None of the five travelers were criminally charged.

If you have had money seized by Detroit CBP/customs, 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 nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. CustomsKeep Calm and Declare Monetary Instruments Exceeding $10,000 USD
  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. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures