Tag: border patrol

A pile of $20 bills on a table.

CBP Seizes Structured Cash at Dulles

CBP Dulles seized over $23,000 that was unlawfully structured and not reported. Below, the story from CBP, explains that the a man was leaving the United States for South Africa and reported only $9,000, when he really had more than $13,000. This is the second recent story about a cash seizure at Dulles for from someone traveling to South Africa.

To make matters worse, CBP discovered that he was traveling with his sister, who was carrying another $10,000 for her brother. At Dulles airport, a structuring offense means a hefty penalty even if legitimate source and intended use of the documentation is presented.

Here are the interesting parts of the story, as told from the perspective of CBP Dulles:

STERLING, Va. ‚ÄĒ U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $23,000 from a South Africa-bound traveler on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

During an outbound inspection, a CBP currency detection canine alerted to the carryon bags of a U.S. citizen.  The man, both verbally and in writing, declared to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000; however, $13,267 was discovered in his bags and on his person.  During the course of the inspection it was determined that he was traveling with his sister, a Ghanaian citizen.  An additional $10,000 in unreported currency was found in her bags which the man stated belonged to him.  The officers seized the $23,267, returned $667 to the man for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

Did you structure cash seized by CBP?

If you structured cash that was seized by CBP, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.


An image of $3M in crisp bills stacked high in a cube in bundles

$3M Seized by CBP: A Lesson Money Laundering

Recently, the Border Patrol part of U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized about $3 million from a pair of people consiting of a Mexican national and a U.S. Citizen just outside of San Diego, California. The full story from CBP is available for reading here, but it involved two vehicles. Here are the relevant excerpts:

At the scene of the vehicle stop, a Border Patrol K-9 alerted agents to conduct a search of the vehicle, resulting in the discovery of eight vacuum-sealed bundles containing $33,880 that was stashed in the center console.  A 53-year-old male U.S. citizen was arrested upon the discovery.

Additional agents were able to locate the Volkswagen Passat as it was abandoned at a cul-de-sac located in a residential area within close proximity of the vehicle stop.  Soon after, the agents found the vehicle’s driver, a 41-year-old male Mexican national, hiding in some brush nearby and arrested him for suspicion of currency smuggling.  Agents searched the vehicle and seized $3,018,000 that was found inside eight boxes located in the trunk.

Business Insider (a publication which rarely seems to live up to its name) wrote an insightful piece on the the seizure and some background on bulk cash smuggling and how drug cartels must get the profits from their drug sales in the United States back to them in Mexico. The story says that this is largely done by physically moving the cash across the border, often in semi-trucks, hidden with commercial shipments. But another method is trade-based money laundering:

A fall 2014 investigation revealed that cash was being dropped off at clothing and textile companies in the city, which then used the cash to buy goods that were shipped to Mexico to be resold for pesos that eventually made their way to the Sinaloa and Knights Templar cartels.

“The Sinaloa Cartel used US drug proceeds to purchase clothes imported from China that were stored in the targeted fashion businesses’ warehouses,” the DEA said in its 2015 report. “The clothes were then shipped across the border into Mexico for resale and the profits placed into the Mexican financial system as legitimate proceeds.”

Guzm√°n’s Sinaloa cartel has also reportedly taken advantage of free-trade agreements to launder money in Latin America, circumventing tariffs on apparel and reselling goods bought with dirty cash to earn a legitimate profit.

These schemes aren’t limited to clothes.

“They used commodities-based money laundering,” Vigil told Business Insider. “Where they buy, for example, gold and diamonds here, and then they smuggle them into Mexico. They’re sold over there and all of a sudden, voil√†, you go from US dollars to Mexican pesos.”

In addition to this way of smuggling and laundering money, we also wrote about the rise in using magnetic cards to move cash across the border in bulk without the need to physically transport anything more than a hotel key card.

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP Seizes $44k from Couple Flying to Ghana

What happens when you’re going to Ghana and you don’t declare your cash to CBP? Your cash is a Goner! Last week, CBP at Dulles Airport in Sterling Virginia seized $44,606 from a couple leaving the United States from Ghana.

According to CBP, the couple told CBP they only had $14,000…. that’s about $30,000 less than what they were carrying. If true, that is a pretty serious failure to report violation. No one forgets they are carrying $30,000 less than they have.

But there are always two sides to every story. In my experience, CBP occasionally has a way of justifying cash seizures if the facts later turn out not to support their reasons for seizure (like when family is traveling together and they think the money was intentionally structured). Here’s the story from CBP’s perspective:

In separate incidents on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted an impostor who arrived from Ghana, and seized about $44,000 from a couple heading to Ghana.

[ . . . ]

Moments later, a CBP K9 alert led to CBP officers seizing a total of $44,606 in U.S. dollars and equivalent foreign currency from a Ghanaian couple who attempted to board a flight to Ghana. The woman was already on the flight when CBP officers interviewed the man. The Ghanaian man reported to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000. He then reported that his wife had an additional $5,000. CBP officers discovered the additional currency during a baggage inspection.

CBP returned $1,500 to the couple and released them to continue their journey.

There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however, federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.

None of the three travelers was arrested. The Privacy Act prohibits releasing the travelers’ names since they were not criminally charged.

‚ÄúThese are two very serious violations of U.S. immigration and currency reporting laws, and these travelers are very fortunate to avoid criminal prosecution,‚ÄĚ said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. ‚ÄúCustoms and Border Protection hopes that these incidents are a reminder to all travelers to be truthful with CBP officers. The United States is a welcoming country, especially to those who respect our nation‚Äôs laws.‚ÄĚ

Has CBP seized your cash?

If CBP has seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Picture from incident where Border Patrol seized cash showing a black bag with vacuum sealed items inside

Border Patrol Seized Cash at Checkpoint

In this story, Border Patrol seized cash from suspected criminals who were traveling near the I-35 checkpoint in Laredo, Texas. Not only cash was seized, but also a handgun and a lot of marijuana, too. A check point is a place further away from the border than a border-crossing where Border Patrol agents may stop a vehicle for questioning and possible referral for secondary inspection.

Why Border Patrol agents and not Customs officers, specifically? U.S. Customs & Border Protection consists of both Customs officers and Border patrol agents, which are separate offices. Border Patrol agents have authority to operate within the “border zone”, which the area within 100 miles of the U.S. border. You can read more about the 100-mile border zone.

On March 4, 2016, Border Patrol agents from the Laredo Sector Border Patrol thwarted an attempt to smuggle drugs, currency and a weapon at the IH-35 Checkpoint.

Border Patrol agents assigned to the Border Patrol Checkpoint on Interstate Highway 35 encountered a truck at the primary inspection lane.  The driver and passenger were being questioned regarding their immigration status, and were subsequently referred by agents to secondary for further inspection of the vehicle.

While at secondary, agents conducted a thorough inspection of the truck, finding several large duffle bags with bundles inside, a handgun and currency inside the vehicle.  The bundles tested positive for marijuana.  A total of 12 bundles were removed from the vehicle with a total weight of 252.8 pounds and a street value of $202,560.00 USD. The subject was placed under arrest, and the narcotics and subject were turned over to DEA.  The handgun was turned over to ATF.

Has Border Patrol seized cash from you?

The process of getting money back from CBP is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If Border Patrol seized cash from you, you can learn more about the process from our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Border Patrol Seizes $138k in Cash

Not quite a customs currency seizure, but similar enough to the topic and the stories we write about on this customs law blog that I thought it good to share it, for those interested. Border patrol seized around $138k in cash that was stashed away in the tailgate of a pick-up truck being driven by a 40 year old U.S. citizen. Border patrol does exactly what their name indicates; the patrol the borders. In this case, nothing in the story suggests that the vehicle was attempting entry into Mexico so I would say this stop did not occur “at the border” where the government can essentially search you without limitation. Because it did not occur “at the border” the police would have had to get a warrant to search the vehicle, or it would have to fall under one of the warrant exceptions. The driver made this easy for border patrol, because he consented to the search of his vehicle anyway (oops). That’s always a bad idea. Here’s the story:

U.S. Border Patrol agents patrolling Interstate 5 arrested a man on Tuesday who had a large quantity of illicit cash hidden inside the tail gate and other areas of his truck.

More than $130K was concealed inside this truck.
More than $130K was concealed inside this truck after requesting permission from 40-year-old U.S. citizen to search the back end of his truck.

At approximately 8 a.m., agents on southbound Interstate 5 stopped a 2004 Chevrolet Colorado truck. Agents approached the 40-year-old U.S. citizen and received permission to search the back end of his truck.

A quick glimpse with a flashlight revealed that the tail gate interior was filled with bundles of cash. Agents arrested the man and transported the vehicle to a nearby station for further investigation. Agents found additional bundles of cash behind the truck tail lights and in the man’s pockets. More than $130K was concealed inside the truck between the tail-gate and tail-light body panels.

The search yielded a seizure of $137,017 in U.S. currency. The man was turned over to agents from Homeland Security Investigations for currency smuggling. The cash and vehicle were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

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. 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?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case