Tag: bulk cash smuggling

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

Dulles CBP Seizes $53k in Cash

Dulles does it again, seizing $53,000 from two different people at the time they left the United States.  

In one incident, when stopped before leaving on a plane from the United States to Cameroon, a man reported having $26,000, but was found to have $36,668. 

In the other incident, a man and his family were leaving for Sudan. They reported having $11,000, but in fact, they had $16,500.

In the first instance, the presence of “six envelopes” tells me that this man was probably carrying money back to Cameroon for other people, probably to help family members suffering Cameroon’s civil war.  If that was the case, there’s probably a good chance he wasn’t told exactly how much was in the envelopes, leading to his under-report of the money.

In the second instance, the fact that the family was traveling together tells me that — as almost always happens in my client’s cash seizure cases — someone did not count all their money, or did not consider some part of money to be required to be reported (i.e., an adult daughter traveling with a few extra thousand dollars of her own, not thinking she needed to report her money as part of the group because she’s an adult). These situations can be messy; sometimes money should be reported, sometimes not; it ends up being the word of the violator against the word of the CBP officer who seized the cash.

In each case, though, once someone is boarding the plane and has not already voluntary made the report to CBP, a violation of the reporting requirements of 31 USC 5316 have already occurred. So whether the report was accurate or not is technically not important: by having to be prompted to report currency by a CBP officer while boarding a plane, you are as good as caught, because you obviously have the intention to not report the money in the small physical space between the ticket counter and the gangway.

Here’s the full story:

STERLING, Virginia — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $53,000 during two outbound currency examinations Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

CBP is not releasing the travelers’ names because none were criminally charged.

While inspecting passengers boarding a flight to Belgium, CBP officers seized $35,688 from a Cameroon man who reported that he possessed $26,000. Officers discovered a combined $27,500 in six envelopes in a backpack, and an additional $7,500 in the man’s carry-on bag. Officers retained $34,000 and released $1,688 to the man for humanitarian purpose.  

While inspecting passengers boarding a later flight to Turkey, CBP officers seized $17,122 from a U.S. family bound for Sudan. The family reported that they possessed $11,000. Officers retained $16,500 and released $621 to the family for humanitarian purpose.

In both cases, the passengers were released to continue their travel.

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.

“Customs and Border Protection encourages travelers to be completely honest when reporting all their currency during an inspection with a CBP officer, or they may incur civil or criminal penalties,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “CBP officers conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S., and to intercept potentially illicit proceeds that support transnational criminal organizations.”

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/dulles-cbp-seizes-53k-unreported-currency-two-departing-sets-travelers

Undeclared and smuggled currency sewn into the lining of under was seized by U.S. Customs at Boston Logan Airport

CBP Seizes Cash Hid in Underwear in Boston

After handling nearly 300 incidents of cash seizures by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, very little surprises me. So, it comes as no surprise to me at Boston Logan Airport, CBP discovered almost $5,000 sewn into the lining of a woman’s underwear.

The $5,000 they found in her underwear was part of a larger amount being transported; almost $27,000 in all. The story says law the cash was seized for a failure to report, but this is also a textbook case of bulk cash smuggling.

Likewise, the story does not say if either of the couple was criminally charged. Criminal charges for bulk cash smuggling, and failure to report cash to CBP, is possible. Here’s the full story:

BOSTON. — On November 8, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers at Logan International Airport discovered $4,900 in undeclared currency sewn inside an Indonesian national’s underwear.

The female passenger arrived with her 63 year-old husband on a flight from Doha, Qatar. During a secondary examination the couple was asked to declare any currency and stated they had approximately $12,000. A patdown and search of possessions by CBP Officers discovered $4,900 sewn into the 63 year-old female passenger’s underwear. The search also uncovered more than $20,000 in US currency and $2,000 in Canadian currency in the couple’s possession.  In total, CBP seized nearly $27,000 in undeclared currency from the two travelers.

“This situation is a reminder that passenger’s should be forthcoming with our Officers,” said Area Port Director Linda K. Brown.  “CBP Officers are highly skilled individuals and are committed to enforcing the laws of the United States at all our ports of entry.”

The undeclared currency was seized pursuant to Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5317 for violation of Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5316, failing to declare over $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments.

A few months back we posted a video showing some more real-life customs cash seizures at Boston Logan Airport. Go check it out.

Have you had cash seized at Boston Logan airport?

If you’ve had cash seized at Boston Logan airport, you can learn more from our trusted legal guide to a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.
$100 Dollar Bills Slider

ICE arrests reggaeton singer for bulk cash smuggling

No one is exempt from the requirement to report more than $10,000 to CBP upon entering or leaving the United States, and other customs territories (which includes Puerto Rico). Earlier this year, Customs seized $51,802 from a reggaeton singer who goes by the stage name Farruko. Not only was the money seized, but the Farruko was arrested.

Basically, Farruko flew via helicopter from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico with more than $50,000. Upon his arrival in Puerto Rico, he completed the standard customs form on which he denied traveling with more than $10,000. However, CBP searched his bag and found cash, including some hidden in “the soles of his shoes.”

Presumably, the money was seized the same day (though the story does not so state); the next day, HSI agents obtained an arrest warrant and also arrested the singer for, presumably, bulk cash smuggling and failure to file a currency report.

The full story, originally HERE, is as follows:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A reggaeton singer was arrested Tuesday in Bayamon for failure to declare transportation of monetary instruments more than $10,000 and for bulk cash smuggling into the United States. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On April 2, Carlos Efrén Reyes-Rosado, aka Farruko, 27, traveled by helicopter from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. When Reyes-Rosado filled out the CBP 6059B customs declaration form, he indicated that he was not carrying more than $10,000.

HSI special agents initially detained him at the Isla Grande airport in San Juan after a search of his bags revealed that he was carrying approximately $51,802 in U.S. currency in his luggage and in the soles of his shoes in his bags.

On April 3, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin authorized a criminal complaint and issued an arrest warrant against Reyes-Rosado. HSI special agents arrested him the same day.

Reyes-Rosado had his preliminary hearing before McGiverin Wednesday.

[ . . . ]

Assistant U.S. Attorney María L. Montañez oversees the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendant faces a fine of no more than $250,000; five years in prison, or both; and forfeiture of the property involved in the offense.

Have you had bulk cash seized?

The process of getting undeclared currency seized by CBP back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If CBP seized bulk 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.

CBP San Juan Seizes $844,000 Smuggled in TVs

This year, United States Customs & Border Protection officers in San Juan, Puerto Rico, made a staggering cash seizure of $844,000 that being exported from the Puerto Rico (a territory, therefore, within the customs territory of the United States).

Though the story is lacking in many details, it appears the vehicle was being exported from Puerto Rico to destinations unknown, when Customs officers became suspicious about it for some reason. They pulled the vehicle aside for closer examination, and discovered 16 smart TV boxes.

After imaging the boxes, they opened them up and “bundles containing US currency appeared.” That’s how the story puts it (was the cash hidden inside the boxes like a jack-in-the-box?).

Otherwise, the story – though published through another media outlet and available for reading here — appears to hew closely to the standard CBP news release narrative, including a disclaimer that it is OK for travelings to carry more than $10,000 into or out of the country, but it must be reported. This is confusing, especially because the story makes no factual assertion that the money was carried by a traveler.

 

CBP Officers Seize $13,000 in Arizona

Customs seized $13,000 in money, and arrested, a Yuma, Arizona resident. The man was traveling on a shuttle from Phoenix and was leaving for Mexico.

Because the man did not declare the money as required by 31 USC 5316 (reports of currency), Customs seized the money from the man. As we strive to explain on this customs law blog, importing and exporting more than $10,000 in money is not illegal if the money is reported (preferably on form FinCen105) to Customs prior to attempting to enter or leave the country.

The story, quoted below, does not indicate the man was arrested (although he could have been, as not reporting cash is a crime), but only “turned . . . over to” HSI agents.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a Yuma resident after seizing more than $13,000 in undeclared currency Friday.

Officers performing outbound inspections of an arriving shuttle from Phoenix referred a 24-year-old man for further inspection when a search of his luggage led to suspicion. Officers discovered multiple envelopes inside of a backpack with a cash count of more than $13,200.

Customs and Border Protection officers seized the currency, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Have you failed to report money to Customs?

If you failed to report money to Customs and had the cash seized, your rights may have been violated and you can try to get the money back. In most cases, filing an administrative petition for relief or a CAFRA seized asset claim to initiate judicial proceedings is the best way to get your seized cash back from Customs. For more information, reading our customs money seizure legal guide and give us a call!

Piles of cash sit atop evidence bags after seizure by U.S. Customs in Brownsville, Texas

Customs Seizes $46,536 in Bulk Cash at B&M Bridge

Earlier this year, CBP officers in Brownsville, Texas, seized a lot of money from a a pedestrian who was leaving the United States for Mexico, although the man was a Mexican national. Cash seizures by Customs officials at the land border between the United States in Mexico in such a large a mount are usually connected with the illegal drug trade.

That’s just one reason why traveling with $46,000, by foot to Mexico, is more suspicious than flying with $46,000 from Hong Kong to Las Vegas for a trip.

The Customs officers who seized the cash search him, and discovered “multiple packages” of bulk cash that totaled more than $46,000. The cash was seized, and the man was arrested (hint: bulk cash smuggling is a crime). Traveling with money out of the country is not illegal, but traveling with more than $10,000 out of the country and not reporting it to CBP is illegal, and will very likely result in seizure of the money.

The full story follows:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge Port of Entry this weekend seized $46,536 in bulk, unreported U.S. currency.

“Our officer’s constant vigilance and experience made this currency seizure possible,” said Port Director Tater Ortiz, Brownsville Port of Entry.

The seizure took place on Sunday, Mar. 18, when CBP officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 22-year-old male Mexican citizen from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, who was selected for a routine outbound inspection. CBP officers conducted a visual and physical search of the bags the traveler was carrying which resulted in the discovery of multiple packages of bulk U.S. currency totaling $46,536 hidden within the bags.

CBP officers seized the currency, arrested the traveler and turned him over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Have you had bulk cash seized by CBP?

The process of getting undeclared currency seized by CBP back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If CBP seized bulk 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.

Cash seized by CBP in Dulles airport for failure to report laid out on a table with Homeland Security logo

CBP Seizes $170k from 7 Travelers at Dulles

Dulles CBP does it again, and again.. and again, again, again, and again, and… again. That is, they sezied almost $170,000 in cash at Dulles airport for not reporting cash to Customs before leaving the country.

The 7 cash seizures by Customs range over a 2 week period, from July 13 to August 1. Travelers were Cash seized by Customs not reported and hidden in a bag at Dulles airporttaking cash to Belgium, Ghana, Turkey, Qatar, and Serbia. In each case, the travelers were stopped by CBP before boarding their plan and incorrectly reported the amount of money they were traveling, when asked.

Note that, if you’re boarding your flight and you haven’t already made the report, even if you make an accurate report when stopped, you’ve already committed the violation of failure to report. Also, in these cases, not filing the report is only one of the potential charges; additionally, the money could be seized for bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses, leading to a higher penalty. Worse yet, CBP can criminally indict any person for bulk cash smuggling, structuring, failing to report, and also making false statements to federal officials (i.e., reporting the wrong amount of money).

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $169,431 during seven recent violations of federal currency reporting laws at Washington Dulles International Airport.

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States.  Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  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 where they enter or leave the country.

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

  • CBP officers seized $21,735 from a Cameroon woman and son boarding a flight to Belgium August 1.  The family reported $9,700.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $735 to the family for humanitarian purposes and released the family.
  • CBP officers seized $30,721 from a U.S. man boarding a flight to Ghana July 30.  The man verbally reported $9,000 then wrote down that he possessed $11,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in white envelopes in a carry-on bag. Officers released $721 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $26,177 from a U.S. family boarding a flight to Turkey July 29.  The family reported $21,000.  Officers discovered additional currency concealed inside children’s socks and in cell phone cases. Officers released $1,177 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $34,585 from a U.S. man and his Ghanaian wife boarding a flight to Ghana July 23.  The couple reported that they each possessed $10,000.  Officers discovered additional currency during an inspection.  Officers released $1,585 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $18,390 from a U.S. couple boarding a flight to Turkey July 21.  The couple reported $9,090.  Officers discovered additional currency in an envelope in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $20,645 from a U.S. man and his Jordanian wife boarding a flight to Qatar July 19.  The couple reported $14,020.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in the woman’s purse.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $17,178 from a Kosovo woman boarding a flight to Serbia July 13.  The woman reported $8,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in luggage and carry-on bags.  Officers released $1,578 to the woman for humanitarian purposes and released the family.

In each case, CBP officers read the federal reporting requirements to the travelers and solicited their understanding of the law.  Officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency they possessed, both verbally and in writing.

“Customs and Border Protection outbound inspections protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or that fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “These currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

Dulles is one of the more aggressive ports when it comes to seizures, penalties, and criminal indictments. If you’ve had money seized by Customs, you should hire a lawyer.