A May 3rd news release from Customs & Border Protection details a recent money seizure in Texas. The release says that Customs officer’s seized $360,025 in unreported currency from a male Mexican national when attempting to exit the U.S. and enter Mexico.
What is interesting about this story is there is what is not said, because these news releases usually give some indication that they suspect there was some connection with illegal drug activity. This, however, only says what I have written about many times; that a failure to report currency over $10,000 (failure to report), or concealing more than $10,000 with an intent to evade the reporting requirement (bulk cash smuggling) is illegal.
Another curious aspect is that the $360,000 was concealed in 36 separate packages, which means that each package had about $10,000 in it. I don’t know if that’s just a convenient amount to put in a package, or if there were supposed to be 36 different transactions taking the money across the border by different people or at different times. That would be a structuring violation, anyway.
Here is the full story:
The vehicle, driven by a 23-year-old male Mexican citizen from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, was selected for further inspection and was referred to secondary. During the process of the secondary inspection, officers noted irregularities within the vehicle and further inspection revealed multiple hidden packages of unreported U.S. currency. Officer discovered and seized a total of 36 packages, which totaled $360,025 in unreported U.S. currency and also seized the vehicle.
CBP-OFO arrested the male traveler and subsequently released him to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents for further investigation.
“This outstanding seizure of unreported currency was accomplished due to excellent teamwork from our CBP-OFO officers,” said Efrain Solis Jr., port director, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas. “People who fail to declare currency in excess of $10,000 entering or leaving the country will face penalties or be subject to having CBP seize all of the unreported currency.”
It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more 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. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.
And I always recommend that anyone whose currency has been seized should contact a lawyer to draft a petition for return of the currency. So if you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999.