Tag: bulk cash smuggling

Image of $221,319 in cash seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Roma, Texas.

CBP Seizes $221,319 Cash at Falcon Dam, Texas

CBP officers in Texas confiscated $221,319 from the passengers of a vehicle heading to Mexico. The story from CBP explains the seizure happened the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, when CBP stopped a vehicle drive by a 41 year old male outbound to Mexico.

The headline and the story itself indicate that the money was simply undeclared; however, the details of the incident describe the money was hidden in eight bundles within the vehicle.

Here’s the full story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations officers at the Falcon Dam Port of Entry recently seized over $200,000 in unreported currency hidden within a passenger vehicle during an outbound examination, Aug. 31.

“Our frontline CBP officers continue to maintain resolute vigilance in both the inbound and outbound environments and their attention to detail helped to detect a significant load of unreported currency,” said Port Director Andres Guerra, Roma/Falcon Dam Port of Entry. “Large outbound currency seizures like this deny the ability of transnational criminal organizations to profit from alleged illicit activity, impacting them directly.”

The seizure occurred on Aug. 31 at Falcon Dam Port of Entry when a CBP officer conducting outbound examinations selected a 2012 Nissan Maxima driven by a 41-year-old male Lawful Permanent Resident for examination. After initial inspection, CBP officers conducted an intensive physical examination and discovered eight bundles containing a total of $221,319 in unreported currency hidden within the vehicle.

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

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.

Have you had money seized by CBP in Texas?

If CBP in Texas 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.

About $96,000 seized by CBP in Arizona laid out on table

CBP Officers Seize Cash in Nogales

Here’s a CBP money seizure story that first popped up in May in one of CBP’s news releases, but it’s worth going over again because it resulted in an arrest and seizure of $96,000.

TUCSON, Ariz. –U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Arizona’s Port of Nogales arrested two Mexican nationals & a U.S. citizen involved in connection with a pair of separate failed smuggling attempts over the past weekend.  

Friday evening, officers at the Mariposa Crossing referred performing outbound operations a 26-year-old Mexican male and his 28-year-old U.S. citizen passenger for further inspection of his Ford sedan. A search of the vehicle, led to the discovery of two large bundles of unreported U.S. currency that were hidden within the car’s rear seats. The packages contained nearly $96,000.

Officers seized the drugs and currency, as well as both vehicles. The subjects were all arrested and then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

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.

Summer CBP Cash Seizure News Roundup

It’s been a busy summer for customs and trade law attorneys. Enforcement by U.S. Customs & Border Protection has been up across the board. There’s been some news releases by CBP, but many I haven’t had time to post here and provide the usual analysis. Instead of letting them all out over the next few weeks, to catch myself I am just going to do a cash seizure news roundup of stories that I did not get to this summer.

Hold on tight, here we go:

CBP seizes $1.6 Million inside Propane Gas Tank

On May 23, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan requested assistance from a CBP Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Marine Patrol Unit for a reported disabled vessel.   A CBP marine unit found a vessel dead in the water 16 miles southwest of Cabo Rojo, with two men from the Dominican Republic on-board.

The vessel and its occupants were navigating to to Santo Domingo from the British Virgin Islands, when the vessel’s engine failed.

The boat was for an inspection by CBP. A CBP canine alerted to the presence of a familiar odor from a large propane gas tank.  Inside the tank the CBPO, AMO agent and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agents discovered large sums of U.S. currency. 

The undeclared currency totaled $1,638,700. CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws.

See the full story here.

$3.7 Million Abandoned Cash Seized in Puerto Rico

In July, CBP patroling waters around Puerto Rico “detected a vessel navigating without lights” towards the U.S. Virgin Islands. [ . . . ] The vessel abruptly turned around [and landed] landing the vessel . . . [CBP and other federal agency agents] pursued the vessel and its occupants, who were seen unloading duffle bags from the vessel, immediately abandoning their cargo and absconding. The agents found five abandoned duffle bags containing bulk US currency. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents, along with agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), seized Sunday $3.7 million in undeclared currency found inside five duffle bags on board an abandoned vessel near the coast of Fajardo. The undeclared currency totaled $3,700,000. CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws. See the full story here

$372k in Beach Duffle Bag Seized in St. Thomas (USVI)

In July [CBP agents] “received a call a concerned citizen about a suspicious boat, making landfall in Bordeaux Bay, St. Thomas. The caller stated that three men were onboard and intentionally beached a 20ft Boston Whaler. The [agents] responded by vehicle to the area and noticed a single duffel bag still sitting in the sand near the boat with a Puerto Rico registration. Agents conducted a sweep of the area but were unable to locate any of the suspects. Inside the duffel bag, agents found an undetermined amount of cash in vacuum-sealed packages.  The undeclared currency totaled $372,000.  U.S. Homeland Security Investigations assumed custody of the seized currency and investigation.

See the full story here  

Agents Seize Over $100k in Bulk Cash

On May 20, CBP agents conducted a vehicle stop on a 2007 Silver Honda Element traveling westbound on Interstate 8, near Sunrise Highway.

After a brief interview, agents determined that a 33-year-old male driver and his 28-year-old female passenger were Mexican citizens with the proper paperwork to enter and work in the United States.  However, during a Border Patrol canine detection search, the canine alerted to the interior of the vehicle. 

Agents discovered 53 bundles of cash totaling $102,998, hidden in a space around the gear selector and behind the speakers of the vehicle. Agents placed the man and woman under arrest and they will be held pending criminal proceedings.

See the full story here.

$100,00 seized near Blythe, California

[A]gents conducted a vehicle stop on a four-door sedan traveling eastbound on Interstate 10. Agents requested, and were granted consent, to search the vehicle after the driver, a male 23-year-old United States citizen, admitted to having drug paraphernalia. During the search, agents located a trash bag containing $96,565 in cash concealed in the rear compartment of the vehicle. Additional evidence was discovered in the vehicle linking the money to drug smuggling activities. The driver claimed that the cash did not belong to him and it was seized by agents.

See the full story here.

 

Hundred dollar bills seized by CBP in Detroit

CBP Cash Seizures and Enforcement Increase at Detroit Metro Airport

A story that CBP in Detroit is increasing cash reporting enforcement at Detroit Metro Airport was all over the local news headlines last week (see here, and here), but because of it, I was not able to post and comment about it until now (yes, it’s busy).

CBP Detroit has released mid-(fiscal)-year statistics in the past, and they have done so again this year. They usually come around May (we commented on it in 2017, further back in 2015 and first in 2013).

Most of the seizures happen at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan. CBP Oficcers there are very active in seizing money. And for good reason: lot’s of people don’t report it, or for some reason, think it’s illegal to carry cash (it’s not!). There’s a lot of people traveling with cash there, because it’s an ethnically diverse area and a connecting hub for many flights where people tend to use cash: China, India, and the Middle East.

How much of a difference is this over past years, really? Well, here’s a summary of all data from this story and comparing it to those we wrote about in years past,

  • October 1, 2016 to May 2, 2017 = $4.4 million (2+ quarters)
  • October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015 = $10,067,095 (full year)
  • October 1, 2018 o March 31, 2019 = $3,852,252 (2 quarters)
  • October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 = $2,384,360 (2 quarters)

While we don’t have the exact data for an apples-to-apples comparison, it looks like Detroit CBP at Metro Airport is closely approximating the seizure activity of the their 2016-2017 fiscal year this year, when they seized $4.4 million by May 2.

We’ve definitely noticed an increase a clients reporting seized money from CBP, especially for this time of year. So far, our firm has handled 48 cases this fiscal year — and a total of 342 since 2012. We are by far the most experienced law firm to help get seized money back from Detroit Customs.

The original story can be read here, but is reproduced below:

ROMULUS, Mich. – During the first half of fiscal year 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers within the Detroit Field Office achieved a 62% increase in the seizure of unreported currency from international passengers as compared to the same period last year. A vast majority of the seizures occurred at Detroit Metro Airport.

Thus far in fiscal year 2019 starting October 1 and ending March 31, CBP has seized $3,852,262 in unreported currency from international travelers, this compares to $2,384,360 seized during the same time frame for fiscal year 2018.

CBP in conjunction with its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners, continues its efforts to prevent the unreported movement of currency through the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and other ports of entry within the Detroit Field Office.  

“This increase clearly demonstrates our continued commitment, and that of our partners, to protect the United States from proceeds of criminal activity,” said Devin Chamberlain, CBP Port Director at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Bulk cash smuggling is the act of concealing currency and/or reportable monetary instruments with the intent of evading currency reporting requirements, in an attempt to transfer or transport the currency or monetary instrument(s) across an international border.

While it is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, federal currency reporting requirements state that travelers must report currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more [Editor: This is wrong. It’s “more than $10,000”) to a CBP officer upon entry to or exit from the United States.  Failure to declare may result in the seizure of the currency, and possible arrest.  An individual may petition for the return of currency seized [Editor: Or file a claim, make an offer in compromise, etc.], but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

Over $500,000 seized by Customs storedi n clear evidence bags

Customs Took $500k Cash at San Juan

There is a lot of cash that passes through the nation’s airports and seaports carried by a lot of people. As we have shown through the years here at this customs cash seizure blog and in our many articles about the procedures for getting back cash taken by Customs, sometimes that money is from illegal and illegitimate sources (i.e., the proceeds of a crime).

In a recent case, Customs in San Juan Puerto Rico confiscated nearly a half million dollars in two separate money seizure incidents. The full story is quoted below, but note these interesting points:

  • $350k was concealed within the rails of 9 suitcases, but the woman only reported carrying $1,600
  • $214k was concealed under the carpet of a cargo van, the male driver reported only carrying $4,000

On to the story:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized over $500K in undeclared currency in two separate incidents at the Port of San Juan and the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport.

On Mar. 30, during luggage inspections authorized by federal law, CBP officers found US currency concealed within the rails of nine suitcases.

Rudi Alfonso Hernandez-Simon, 52, a citizen of the Dominican Republic failed to declare accurately having in his possession a total of $353,372. 

Mr. Hernandez-Simon, who also had a carry-on bag and one (1) backpack, declared to be transporting approximately $1,600.  

On Apr. 1, CBP officers inspecting outbound vehicles to be transported onboard the ferry M/V KYDON, bound to Santo Domingo, selected a Ford E-350 cargo vehicle for further examination.

The driver, a legal permanent resident with citizenship from the Dominican Republic, declared being in possession of $4,000. 

A CBP K-9 discovered thirteen (13) packages of US currency concealed under the carpet, between the driver and passenger seats, totaling $214,037. 

“Travelers can carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP,” indicated Edwin Cruz, San Juan Area Port Director.   “Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency, penalties and/or arrest.”

In each incident, CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws.   U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested Mr. Hernandez-Simon who appeared before the US District Court in San Juan.  HSI will proceed with an investigation for both cases.

Currency bundles wrapped in black tape were hidden within the tailgate of the truck. The cash was seized by CBP.

Customs Confiscates $170k Cash from Truck Tailgate

In Texas recently, the CBP seized a lot of cash that was hidden inside the tailgate of a pick-up truck that was being driven into Mexico.

That last line of the story is ever-present in cash seizure news releases, but gives the wrong impression. What do you supposed would happen if the driver reported the money in this case?

“Excuse me, officer, I would like a FinCen 105 because I have to report some money; I’ve got $170,000 stored in my tailgate.”

If you’ve got $170,000 stored in your tailgate, surely you’re up to no good. And even if you report the money as required by 31 USC 5316, the officers are probably still going to seize the money for other alleged criminal activity, like money laundering, drug trafficking, etc.

Here’s the text of the story, enjoy!

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $170,030 Saturday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the tailgate of a pick-up truck.

CBP officers were conducting an outbound operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 12:50 p.m. a 2018 Nissan Titan pick-up driven by a 48-year-old U.S. citizen, accompanied by a 23-year-old Mexican citizen passenger approached the inspection area. Further inspection of the vehicle revealed currency bundles wrapped in black tape hidden within the tailgate of the truck.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver and passenger to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

“CBP officers are working hard to stop the illegal movement of guns, ammunition and unreported currency,” said Michael Neipert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Presidio port director. “Travelers who do not follow federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency and may potentially face criminal charges.”

$100 bills wrapped in aluminum foil smuggled in a drum of paint seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes Smuggled $390k at San Juan

U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized almost $400,000 USD that was part of a bulk cash smuggling incident in the middle of March at the Port of San Juan, in Puerto Rico.

The story is interesting because of its novelty. The amazing ability of CBP officers do detect when things are “off” is also on display in this story. Basically, a cargo ship was leaving Puerto Rico with two vehicles within it (and presumably, much more other cargo).

The vehicles were inspected, and inside was found 2 “excessively heavy” 55 gallon barrels of liquid paint. Inside the barrels were 72 packages of currency totaling $384,840 dollars.

In a second, apparently related, incident, CBP seized $10,000 that was vacuum packed into an ice tea container, all hidden within a cardboard barrel. Here’s the full story:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized over $390K concealed inside two vehicles in separate incidents last week in the Port of San Juan.    

On Mar. 11, during the boarding process at the ferry M/V Maestro Universe, bound to the City of Santo Domingo, CBP officers inspected two (2) excessively heavy 55 gallon barrels of liquid paint, finding seventy-two (72) packages of unreported currency inside.   The currency amounted to $384,840.

In another cardboard barrel, Officers found a vacuumed pack bag from a Lipton Ice Tea container with $10,000 in 100-dollar bills.

“Travelers can carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP,” indicated Edwin Cruz, San Juan Area Port Director.   “Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.”

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assumed custody of the seized currency for further investigation. 


The story ends unusually, but not uncommonly, be explaining the travelers can transport more than $10,000 so long as they report the money. However, that warning doesn’t seem to be a factor here — because it was a cargo ship, no one was traveling with the money such that they could have reported in that manner.

CBP Seizes $18,000 in Abu Dhabi, UAE

CBP seized about $18,000 from a set of travelers traveling to the United States from the United Arab Emirates.

That’s not unusual but might be surprising to some, because most seizures occur on U.S. soil either at the time of departure, or at arrival. CBP operates “preclearance” centers in a few spots around the globe. The idea of the preclearance center is to do the customs work before the person ever steps on U.S. soil, so that upon their arrival, they do not have to go through customs at all, because it was already done in the country of departure.

It’s not too unusual, because since October 1, 2018, CBP has seized more than $2 million from passengers at pre-clearance centers for violations of the currency reporting requirements.

The Wikipedia article says that CBP officers operating on foreign soil do not have the full power of search and arrest that they enjoy in the United States, and so most things must be done with the consent of the passenger:

Since CBP does not have legal powers on foreign soil, passengers can be detained for local laws only by local authorities. Passengers can choose to abandon their flight and refuse search, and unlike in the United States, officers cannot search them. Most preclearance facilities have a sign explaining so.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_border_preclearance

The particulars of these case, beyond the fact that it happened in the UAE, are not different from situations we usually blog about. So, on to the story:

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Abu Dhabi Preclearance seized $18,357 in unreported currency, Feb. 18. 

A U.S. couple and another family member were traveling to Wisconsin and Iowa respectively when CBP officers working at the Preclearance facility asked the family for a currency declaration.  The family reported carrying $8500.

When CBP officers requested the family complete the required FinCEN Form, the family group amended the currency amount to $17,000.  However, during the baggage examination, CBP officers discovered the U.S. couple was carrying $18,357. 

“International travelers can carry an unlimited amount of money into or departing from the U.S., but they are required to report traveling with currency over $10,000,” said CBP Preclearance Director of Field Operations Clint Lamm.  “Those who refuse to comply with the federal reporting requirements risk having the currency seized.”

The travelers were given multiple opportunities to truthfully report the amount of money they were carrying.  CBP officers seized $17,357 and the group was allowed to continue their travel.

In FY 2019, CBP Preclearance has seized nearly $2 million in unreported currency from travelers refusing to provide a truthful declaration.

$1 million dollars stacked on table seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes $1 Million in Cash at Laredo

The government shut-down prevented CBP from releasing news stories about the cash seizure and customs enforcement activity. Now that the shutdown is over (for now), we have a new story from CBP in Laredo.

In this case, as so often is the case in the cash seizures that occur along the U.S.-Mexico border, this story has the feel of the movement of cash in facilitation of the illegal drug trade.

Isn’t there something suspicious about a 20 year-old woman driving a 9 year old car that has 53 bundles of cash in it? Yes, absolutely; it’s improbably. In this case, officers had more to go on than just their own suspicions, because the money was not reported.

Not only was there a failure to report cash to Customs, but the money was likely smuggled (i.e., hidden) because the story implies that to find the cash officers had to use a imaging system scan and an intensive examination (this usually means they ripped off body panels and parts of the vehicle to locate the cash).

LAREDO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers Juarez-Lincoln Bridge recently seized nearly $1 million in unreported currency hidden within a passenger vehicle during an outbound examination.

The seizure occurred on Friday, Jan. 25 at Juarez-Lincoln Bridge when a CBP officer conducting outbound examinations selected a 2010 Nissan Maxima driven by a 20-year-old female U.S. citizen for examination. After initial inspection utilizing a non-intrusive imaging systems scan, CBP officers conducted an intensive physical examination and discovered 53 bundles containing a total of $988,550 in unreported currency hidden within the vehicle. 

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

Has Laredo CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Laredo 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.

CBP officer revealing $27,500 concealed in a traveler's backpack, seized for bulk cash smuggling and not reporting

$57,000 in Cash Seized from Beninese Travelers

Recently, CBP seized a large amount of money arriving into the United States because it was not reported. The seizure occurred when CBP stopped a Beninese couple who had arrived in the United States from Belgium.

Upon being asked, they reported less than $10,000. Then they changed the story to $9,500 and €19,000.

Of course, that turned out not to be the whole truth.

Instead, they had more than $15,000, more than €35,000, and about $1,235 in West African Francs (an interesting monetary union, that).

The worst news for this couple is that there is a very clear presumption that the money was hidden because the money was not just in several envelopes, but within the luggage inside pant and suit pockets, and on the woman’s body.

At Dulles airport, that means it’s bulk cash smuggling. And bulk cash smuggling at Dulles airport means that if you get any money back (by proving legitimate source and intended use), you lose about half of it as a penalty.

Here is the full story from CBP Dulles:

STERLING, Virginia — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $57,000 in unreported currency from a Benin couple Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The couple, who arrived on a flight from Belgium, initially told CBP officers that they possessed less than $10,000. After officers advised them of U.S. currency reporting laws, the couple reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $9,500 and 19,000 euros.

During an examination, CBP officers discovered $15,765 in U.S. dollars, 36,095 euros and 722,000 West African francs for a combined equivalent of $56,985 in U.S. dollars.  Officers discovered the currency in several envelopes, inside pants and suit pockets within their luggage, and during a patdown of the female traveler.

It is legal to carry large sums of currency in or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country.

“Customs and Border Protection officers know that concealed bulk currency is oftentimes proceeds from alleged illicit activity and is used to fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore. “This currency seizure reflects CBP’s continuing commitment to enforce all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, and potential criminal charges.

CBP officers seized the currency. Officers then returned the 722,000 West African francs, equivalent to about $1,240, to the couple for humanitarian relief, and released the couple to continue their visit.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/dulles-cbp-seizes-nearly-57k-unreported-currency-benin-travelers