Large Customs Money Seizures in Puerto Rico

In a recent Customs news release two customs money seizures were reported in the same weekend at the Luis Munoz Marin airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. These are big currency seizures totalling nearly $300,000 in seized money. I quote the story below:

San Juan, Puerto Rico — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $180,678 in unreported currency Saturday, while conducting routine outbound operations on a flight departing to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Another seizure occurred on Sunday, during an enforcement routine check at the airport’s baggage claim area, resulting in the seizure of an additional $109,989 concealed within luggage.

On Saturday, CBP officers selected United States citizen Luis Carrion-Velilla, 32, for examination, and explained to him the currency reporting requirements. Bulk Cash Smuggling Currency SeizureAnother passenger traveling with Mr. Carrion was also interviewed. During the interview, they claimed to be transporting less than $10,000. Intensive examination revealed $180,678 concealed in several locations, within clothing in their luggage, in a toiletry bag and in a false bottom compartment on a carry-on. During the interview, it was determined that all the money belonged to Mr. Carrion, which he voluntarily abandoned. 

The currency was seized under bulk cash smuggling  laws and Assistant AUSA Maritza Gonzalez approved criminal prosecution. [Note: Read the article I link to, but it is smuggling because it was concealed.]

“The unreported cash that we seize has an impact on criminal organizations by making it more difficult for them to further their illicit activities,” said Juan Hurtado, San Juan area port director. “CBP officers remain vigilant generating important enforcement activity regularly.”

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the United States. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP. Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest. [Note: technically this is wrong, the reporting requirement is triggered if the amount is more than $10,000, not $10,000 “or higher”].

On a separate incident Sunday, law enforcement authorities seized $109, 989 during an enforcement routine check in the baggage claim area of the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. A Puerto Rico Police canine alerted to a piece of luggage and PRPD agents found the currency hidden inside. CBP officers and Homeland Security Investigation agents provided assistance with the seizure and subsequent investigation. Local and federal law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico will continue to work together to disrupt criminal activity in the island.

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or 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 around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles:

  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. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?