Customs Seizes $410k from Traveler leaving United States

Below is a news release concerning a customs currency seizure of more than $410,000 (and a vehicle) for failure to report and bulk cash smuggling (concealing money in a door panel is predictably ripe for allegations by customs of bulk cash smuggling).

Based on the fact that the man was arrested and the the prevalence of drug money seeping across the U.S.-Mexico border, it seems highly likely that something illegal was happening here. However, innocent people who simply failure to report the amount of currency they are transporting get their currency seized and confiscated by customs everyday at airports and land borders. These people can get their money back with the if they follow the right steps to respond to their currency seizure.

Even though this person was arrested, they have the right to try to get the money back by proving legitimate source and legitimate intended use. The CBP news release also correctly states the person can petition to have the seized money returned, but there are other options, too: a claim could be filed which initiate judicial forfeiture of seized currency, and I occasionally there are cases where making an offer in compromise makes sense.

CALEXICO, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Calexico downtown port of entry Wednesday arrested a man after discovering more than $410,000 in unreported U.S. currency, hidden in the doors of the vehicle he was driving.

The incident occurred at about 7:15 a.m., on June 25, when CBP officers were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Calexico border crossing. Officers targeted a 1998 Ford Expedition SUV and referred the driver and vehicle for a more in-depth examination.

Officers utilized the port’s imaging system and discovered anomalies within the Expedition’s rear doors. A CBP currency and firearms detector dog alerted to the area, leading officers to the discovery of several wrapped packages of U.S. currency concealed inside the rear doors of the vehicle. Officers extracted a total of 14 packages containing $410,980 in cash from the SUV

Officers extracted a total of 14 packages containing $410,980 in cash from the SUV.

The driver, a 32-year-old U.S. citizen and resident of Los Angeles, was arrested and turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations agents for further processing. He was later transported to the Imperial County Jail to await criminal arraignment.

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.

We handle currency seizure cases that occur at the Detroit airport and land border crossings like the Detroit/Windsor-Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge on a regular basis, and have been very successful in getting our client’s money back from customs.  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