Tag: bulk cash smuggling

Bags of money stuffed inside a speaker box seized by U.S. Customs

CBP discovers and seizes about $700,000 leaving for Mexico

Here is a tale of a cash seizure made by CBP in El Paso, Texas, from back in June. I’ve been sitting on this one a while due to customs law blogging being a pretty low priority due to my heavy case load. The facts are not unusual in this case: young man, driving a ordinary vehicle, denies carrying more than $10,000 in cash. Upon inspection on the ordinary vehicle, CBP finds more than a half-million dollars of cash hidden in it. It looks like it was hidden inside a subwoofer-enclosure.

Here’s the story:

Officers working at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations’ El Paso port of entry (POE) seized $689,506 in currency yesterday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in a vehicle that was leaving the U.S. at the Ysleta international crossing at the El Paso POE.

The seizure was made Sunday evening when a 2006 Nissan X-Terra arrived at the outbound inspection station at the Ysleta crossing. CBP personnel interviewed the driver and received a negative declaration for any currency in excess of $10,000, weapons or ammunition. CBP personnel selected the vehicle for a secondary exam during which they located several bundles of currency hidden within a speaker box.

CBP officers arrested a 28-year-old male driver, of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. He was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations agents to face charges associated with the failed smuggling attempt.

Needless to say, this is a textbook example of bulk cash smuggling. I’m 99% certain this guy was up to no good, that the money had neither a legitimate source nor a legitimate intended use. As such (and even more-so because smuggling was involved), there is a infinitesimally (immeasurably, or incalculably small) small chance he could ever hope to get this money back.

This differs greatly from the types of people we love to help get seized money back from Customs. Our average currency seizure client has more than $10,000 seized either entering or exiting the country for a failure to report it, for dividing it, and occasionally for also hiding it.

Has customs taken your hard earned money?

If customs took your hard earned money, you should hire a lawyer. You should also read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

 

Stacks of Cash at Dulles Airport Seized by Customs for Violating the Currency Reporting Requirements

Customs at Dulles Seizes $29k Hidden in Pants

U.S. Customs is reporting on more cash seizures by its officers at Dulles Airport in Sterling, Virginia. Just last week, I commented on a story where CBP seized cash from 3 groups of people, all coming from or going to Africa. In this story below, two Ghanaian men had $29,019 seized by Customs agents for violating the currency reporting regulations requiring a report for in-bound and out-bound cash transportation of more than $10,000.

In the last story, I warned Dulles strictly enforces a penalty of 50% of the seized cash for anyone involved in a structuring or bulk cash smuggling offense, even if it’s a first offense. In this case, I’ve got a good idea who is about to lose a serious amount of cash, because CBP “discovered $8,504 inside a pair of shorts [one of the men] wore under his pants.” So….

BULK CASH SMUGGLING ALERT

Here’s the CBP narrator telling the story (full story here):

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $29,000 from cousins traveling to Ghana Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Since July 1, CBP officers at Dulles have recorded seven unreported currency seizures that totaled $180,819.

In the latest incident, CBP officers seized $29,019 from two cousins who initially reported they possessed $9,115.  During an examination, CBP officers discovered $615 in one man’s wallet and an additional $18,900 in his carry-on bag. Officers then discovered $8,504 inside a pair of shorts the other man wore under his pants, and $1,000 in a checked bag.

CBP officers permitted the two Ghanaians numerous opportunities to truthfully report, both verbally and in writing, their total currency, before officers discovered the unreported currency.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

 

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

Stacks of cash and a pile of envelopes seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Dulles Airport CBP seizes over $77k in cash

CBP at Dulles Airport in Virginia is taking more and more cash from travelers, and is spreading the news far and wide in news releases such as the one that follows. In this particular story, there is a story of SIX currency seizures in July that resulted in a seizure of cash of more than $150,000, all for a failure to file the currency report for more transporting more than $10,000.

As such, these CBP airport cash seizures were totally avoidable. It is legal to transport more than $10,000 in cash, but it’s illegal not to report the transportation of that cash. The airport cash report is required when leaving the country, and when arriving. It’s pretty simple, but you can read about it. Here’s the story as narrated by some fine CBP employee with knowledge of the facts:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $77,586 combined in three seizures of travelers flying international through Washington Dulles International Airport recently for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

CBP officers seized:

  • $20,211 from an Ethiopia-bound couple on Saturday. The couple reported $8,000 and then $11,600; however, a CBP currency canine alerted and CBP officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag and purse, and in wallets each possessed.
  • $33,796 from a Burundi woman who arrived on a flight from Ghana on July 27. The woman reported $9,000. CBP officers discovered $32,765, 483 Ghanaian Cedi and 50 UAE Dirhams for a total U.S. dollar equivalent of $33,796.
  • $23,579 from a mother and son bound for Sudan on July 24. They verbally reported “less than $10,000,” and then wrote down $9,800. CBP officers discovered an additional $4,000 in a laptop case and multiple envelopes in a purse that contained a combined $10,579 for a total count of $23,579.

During each seizure, CBP officers permitted the travelers numerous opportunities to truthfully report their total currency, including having the travelers read and sign the currency reporting requirements, and make verbal and written declarations before officers conducted inspections.

 

Any airport cash seizure by CBP at Dulles airport brings with it great risk. To my knowledge, Dulles airport strictly enforces a penalty of 50% for anyone involved in a structuring or bulk cash smuggling offense; and they broadly interpret the laws of structuring and bulk cash smuggling.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

Piles of cash seized by CBP officers at Philadelphia airport.

$93k Seized by Philly CBP

I’ve had limited time to blog about customs law lately, but there was a large currency seizure out of Philadelphia reported about 2 weeks ago. At $93,000, it is among the largest of the run-of-the-mill failure to report/bulk cash smuggling cases that I’ve seen at the nation’s airport.

Usually, these types of seizures are typically between $10,000 and $40,000, but sometimes larger; therefore, moving $93,000 out of the country likely took customs officers seizing the cash at the airport by surprise.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $93,000 from a Qatar-bound family for violating federal currency reporting regulations Tuesday at Philadelphia International Airport.

CBP officers conducted an inspection on departing international passengers and encountered a man, his wife and their five children.  Officers explained the currency reporting regulations to the family and the father reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $12,000.  During the inspection, CBP officers discovered a combined $93,393 concealed on the man’s, the woman’s, and their adult child’s bodies.  CBP officers seized the currency.

CBP officers returned $3,393 to the family and released them to continue their journey.

So this airport seizure involved 7 people — a husband, wife, and 5 children. The phrase “concealed on . . . their . . . bodies” does not bode well for this family. Recall, the consequences a failure to report are less than when the offense involves bulk cash smuggling (i.e., concealing the cash with the intent of avoiding the currency report).

Has Philly CBP seized your cash?

If Philly CBP seized your cash, read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

 

 

A picture of bulk cash from behind the stereo in the dashboard in a bulk cash smuggling seizure CBP officers removed

CBP Officers Discover $190,000 in Radio

Question: When is a 9 year old Ford Fusion worth more than $7,000? Answer: When there is $190,000 in cash hidden behind the radio. As is always the case with the stories about Customs taking cash at the border with Mexico, this really is not just a “failure to report” but really “bulk cash smuggling.”

The intent to not report the cash can be strongly inferred from its presence behind the radio and the individuals failure to report it. The only way he might not be responsible for the bulk cash smuggling and failure to report crimes is if he did not know the money was there. For example, if he just bought the car and the previous owner preferred to keep his cash in the dashboard of his car instead of a bank account.

Here’s the story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Nogales on June 9 arrested a male Mexican national for failing to report more than $190,000 in U.S. currency bound for Mexico.

Officers working at the Mariposa crossing Friday afternoon referred a 23-year-old driver of a 2008 Ford Fusion for a search of his vehicle before allowing it to cross into Mexico. During the search, officers discovered 24 packages of U.S. currency hidden behind the vehicle’s radio.

Officers seized the funds and vehicle, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who is considering keeping their savings in their dashboards. If you forget to remove it or report it to Customs before your cross the border, you may get the money seized by Customs!

Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Stacks of bills totaling $16,152 in unreported currency seized by CBP officers at Eagle Pass Port of Entry.

CBP Catches Cash Smuggler Red-Handed

The link between smuggling cash and smuggling drugs across the border is not always apparent. In fact, the currency reporting requirement was enacted to trace money entering and leaving the country that has some illegal connection, such as illegal drugs, illegal weapons, tax evasion, etc. This is why there is no penalty or tax for carrying cash across the border provided that the report is actually filed.

The connection between cash is often not obvious. Many times, especially with the larger movements of cash, the criminals are sure to move only cash, or only drugs, and thereby mitigate against the risk of seizure of both the product and the profits. However, in the story below, both drugs and cash were found and seized by CBP, making the connection to illegal activity obvious:

CBP officers at the Eagle Pass International Bridge on April 15 inspected a 1999 Ford Mustang, driven by a 30-year-old man from Lamar, Colorado, during outbound operations. After further inspection, officers found $16,152 unreported U.S. currency in a bag concealed under the passenger seat of the vehicle. Officers also found 5.5 grams of alleged cocaine in a plastic bag, 6.4 grams of alleged crystal methamphetamine in a plastic bag, 5.3 grams of alleged cocaine in a plastic bag, 17.3 grams of alleged cocaine in 54 capsules and 1.5 pills of Oxycodone. The driver was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations special agents for further investigations. CBP officers seized the vehicle, narcotics and the unreported U.S. currency.

Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

$150,000 in bulk cash wrapped in bundles pictured on the on the roof of the vehicle from which the money was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Finds and Seizes $185k in Hidden Cash

CBP seized $185,000 in smuggled currency that was heading into Mexico out of Laredo, Texas, last week, in a story reported by CBP. The story has few details, but tells us that the money was apparently not hid too well because 16 bundles of currency were found after a “non-intrusive” inspection.

What we do now is that the cash and vehicle was seized, and the two individuals in the vehicle were arrested. The rest of the story consists of “boilerplate” statements about the role of CBP in inspecting passengers, seizing currency, and the currency reporting requirement.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to work outbound inspection operations at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge seized over $185,000 in U.S. currency in a single enforcement action over the weekend.

“CBP officers not only ensure that inbound travelers and cargo comply with U.S. laws and regulations but also conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S. and protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity,” said Port Director Gregory Alvarez, Laredo Port of Entry. “This weekend’s significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing federal currency reporting requirements.”

The seizure occurred on Saturday, April 29, when a CBP officer referred a 2007 Mitsubishi Endeavor for an intensive inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 34-year-old Mexican male citizen from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and a 33-year-old Mexican male citizen as a passenger also from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. A canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers resulted in the discovery of 16 packages containing $185,020 in U.S. currency.

CBP officers seized currency and vehicle. The driver and passenger were arrested and the case was then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., however, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they will need to report it to CBP. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

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

Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

Cash seized by Detroit Airport CBP: Going, going… gone?

I’ve been a busy customs lawyer recently, but most especially the last six months. Therefore, while I’ve still been trying to get each of you many readers some new stuff for the customs law blog each week, my attention has been mostly elsewhere.
And so, I’ve finally got back to keeping an eye on the weekly forfeiture notices published U.S. Customs & Border Protection each week. There was nothing interest this week for Detroit or Chicago in terms of CAFRA seizures, but last week’s notice had some unfortunate postings:
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 28, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 28, 2017
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 27, 2017
2017380700072301-001-0000, Seized on 02/08/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 217; EA; Valued at $20,719.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31CFR1010.340(A)
2017380700078501-001-0000, Seized on 02/22/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 151; EA; Valued at $13,989.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)
I cringe when I see entries like this. What in the hell happened that two people have let almost $35,000 get published for forfeiture? Both occurred at Detroit airport in February, both contain no allegations of illegal activity aside from a failure to report or a cash structuring violation, and yet…. here it is, just about as good as gone. (The only way it would be published and not as good as gone is if someone filed seized asset claim form, as opposed to some administrative option. Generally, for most people and cases, a claim is a bad idea. Despite what other self-styled “premier forfeiture litigators” may put on their websites.)
“But wait!” you say, “the deadline to file a claim is not until June 27!” That is true, but you are ineligible to file a claim if you received a notice of seizure letter. So if you just chose to do nothing in the 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice then you can’t step in and file a claim once it has been published…. that is unless you have a Really Clever Customs Lawyer.
Bulk cash hidden in the vehicle panels seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes $273,005 in Smuggled Cash

CBP discovered over a quarter-million dollars hidden in the right-rear quarter-panel of a Dodge Durango that was being driven out of the United States into Mexico. The story states the driver of the vehicle was arrested for a failure declare cash over $10,000, but pretty obviously, this was more about a bulk cash smuggling offense (which is also a criminal offense).

CALEXICO, Calif. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Calexico ports of entry over the weekend intercepted $273,005 in unreported U.S. currency and discovered approximately $57,400 worth of methamphetamine in two separate smuggling attempts.

The first incident occurred on Apr. 7, at around 8 p.m., at the Calexico East port of entry, when CBP officers conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico stopped a 2001 white Dodge Durango. Officers referred the driver for a more in-depth examination.

After an intensive examination that included an alert from a currency and firearms detector dog and use of the port’s imaging system, officers discovered 11 wrapped packages containing $273,005 in U.S. currency concealed inside the right rear quarter panel of the vehicle.

The driver, a 60-year-old male and lawful permanent resident of the United States, was arrested for failure to declare monetary instruments in value of more than $10,000 and was turned over to HSI agents for further investigation.

Theoretically, if the driver of the vehicle that the $250,000 cash was hidden inside of could prove that the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use, he might be able to get some of the money back, even if he is criminally convicted. It’s not very likely, but it might be possible. The likelihood this could happen is reduced in bulk cash smuggling cases as opposed to failure to report cash cases due to the activity that is prohibited in the case of each law; in the case of failing to report cash, the prohibited activity is not reporting cash of more than $10,000. In this case of bulk cash smuggling, the prohibited activity is the concealing of cash with the intent to avoid filing the required cash report.

 

Officers at the Port of San Luis discovered two packages of unreported U.S. currency hidden within frozen packages of tortilla dough

CBP Officers Seize Cash Disguised as Dough

This article could also be called, CBP seizes “dough,” slang for cash. This seems to me to be a very clever smuggling attempt, but I don’t know much because I’m not a customs officer. I have it on very good authority that after years on the job, a good CBP officer develops a sixth sense for the presence of contraband.

In this case, a Mexican man stashed $54,000 in bags of tortilla dough that were in a cooler in the back of his van:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of San Luis arrested a Mexican national Thursday after finding unreported U.S. currency, hidden inside of tortilla dough.

Officers referred a 54-year-old Mexican man for a further search of his Honda van Thursday afternoon and found $54,000 in unreported U.S. currency within an ice chest in the rear of the van. The bags of tortilla dough were taken apart, revealing two packages of currency of varying denominations.

Officers seized all contraband and vehicle involved, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.