Customs Money Seizure; $150K Seized at Border Crossing

What follows is an account of a currency seizure recently released by U.S. Customs & Border Protection where the traveler had almost $150,000 seized because he failed to report the currency. Anyone who transports more than $10,000 into or outside of the United States must file a report with customs, prior to or at the time of crossing. When customs seizes your currency after arriving at an airport or border crossing you should keep calm and contact us. Even though it seems like the end of the world, there are legal steps that can be taken to get your money back through forfeiture remission proceedings. On to the story (ORIGINAL HERE):

Officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations at the Hidalgo International Bridge seized $143,932 in unreported U.S. currency from a McAllen, Texas Keep Calm and Contact Your Customs Attorneyman as he attempted to enter into Mexico.

“This seizure of unreported U.S. currency was accomplished due to our officers’ outstanding attention to detail and excellent observational skills,” said Efrain Solis Jr., Port Director, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “Although transporting currency either way across the border is not illegal, as long as it is declared to CBP, most seizures of currency involve money having been obtained from illicit activities.”

CBP officers working at the Hidalgo-Reynosa Bridge outbound lanes on May 6 encountered a U.S. based taxicab as it attempted to exit into Mexico. The driver and lone occupant, a 40-year-old male U.S. citizen were asked to declare what they were transporting into Mexico, to include currency in excess of $10,000. After further interaction with the passenger, the taxicab was referred to secondary for further examination. During the process of the secondary inspection, CBP officers discovered bundles of U.S. currency concealed within the traveler’s personal belongings. CBP-OFO removed and seized several stacks of unreported U.S. currency, which totaled $143,932.

CBP-OFO arrested the male traveler and subsequently released him to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for further investigation.

When crossing the border with cash or monetary instruments, remember to stay calm and report anything in excess of $10,000 USD.

The reason your currency was seized by customs may be different. The vast majority of my client’s have had their money taken by customs at the airport or at the land borders because of miscommunication, ignorance of the reporting requirement, confusion, fatigue from travel, and other times because of unfair, if not necessarily illegal, enforcement tactics used by customs. If you have had money seized by customs, keep calm and 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. 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. 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