Tag: cash seized at detroit metro airport

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 Officers 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 to 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.

A copy of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit featuring the case of the incomplete check seized by CBP

Detroit CBP Forfeits Seized Cash by Notices

There have not been many news releases by CBP about cash seizures, but just because it’s not hitting the news doesn’t mean anything has changed. For example, CBP in Detroit is still seizing cash at Detroit Metro Airport (and of course, to a lesser extent, the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel). To get a glimpse of their activity, we can look to the notices of seizure and intent to forfeit postings that the government is required to make on the foreiture.gov website.

Once CBP takes money, there are several ways to try to get it back. Most of these are shown on the election of proceedings form. If they can’t successfully get the money back, or they choose to file a claim, the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit is published.

From mid-December until now, here are all the cases where money was seized and the notice has been published, along with my comments on each case:


2018380700037501-001-0000, Seized on 01/05/2018; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 323; EA; Valued at $31,261.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317

Above, the cash was seized at Detroit Metro on 1/5, and the posting was made on January 12. Typically, CBP sends out a notice of seizure letter to those with a known interest in the money and then, if not responded to within 35 days, the notice gets published online. So this short period of time between seizure and publication only makes sense to me if the person who had their money seized abandoned the cash or, immediately they filed a claim.


2017380700124801-001-0000, Seized on 05/26/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 263; EA; Valued at $26,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Above is a more expected situation, where the money was seized in May 2017 (for failure to report and for structuring), but the first publication of the intent to forfeit was not until January. This tells me that it is very likely that the administrative resolution was unsuccessful (e.g., they filed an administrative petition and it was unsuccessful). That usually means a bad lawyer, no lawyer, or insufficient documentation showing legitimate source and use of the seized cash. Some people give up at this point, which is usually a poor decision. You’ve got to keep trying and file a claim, but you’ll meet with the same fate unless you get an experienced attorney.

DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 27, 2018

2017380700064601-001-0000, Seized on 01/25/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 250; EA; Valued at $25,000.00; For violation of 19USC1607, 19USC162.45, 19USC983(A)(2)

The also looks like the administrative options failed. But this one puzzles me another reason, because the reasons listed for seizure don’t appear to be right. All of the law or regulations cited there are for the summary forfeiture statute, which only describes the process used for forfeiting property that is valued at less than $500,000. In other words, those laws do not describe a crime but instead just direct the government to publish notice in a certain way. It looks like someone at CBP sent the wrong information in for publishing.

DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: February 13, 2018

2018380100011101-001-0000, Seized on 11/09/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY; 878; EA; Valued at $20,106.00; For violation of 18USC981(A)(1)(C), 18USC1956(C)(7)(A), 18USC1961(1)(D),21USC841,21USC881,, 21USC846

2018380700026301-001-0000, Seized on 12/01/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 520; EA; Valued at $48,293.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5332

Finally, the first of the two listed here was seized not for a failure to report the cash, but instead because the money was suspected to be involved in some illegal activity. The case number tells me that this occurred at one of the land border crossings in Detroit, where such a situation is more likely to occur than at the Detroit Metro Airport.

The final case shows the money was seized on December 1, and the notice was published on December 15. That tells me that the person, rather than electing administrative proceedings, chose to file a claim and set their case up for decision by a judge. Typically, that’s a bad idea; it’s usually better to give administrative remedies a chance first, but not always. It could be someone made this decision without a lawyer, or hired a lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Is Detroit CBP forfeiting your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized and is forfeiting 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.
Detroit CAFRA Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit

CBP Seized $20,242 at Detroit Metro Airport

Last week’s forfeiture.gov publication of legal notices of seizure and intent to forfeit revealed more unfortunate news for someone out there who had their cash seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, as recently as March 6, 2017.

Here’s why it’s unfortunate: If the money was seized on March 7, the notice of seizure was probably not sent until about March 21, which would give the interested person 30 days to respond with a petition (or 35 days to file a claim) — that puts a deadline at about April 6 for a petition, or April 11 for a claim.

The fact that notice has been published means 1) somebody got their petition denied (unlikely in 30 days unless the documentation was terrible); 2) somebody filed a claim and requested notice be published (probably a bad decision — a long and and court supervised process leading to trial); or 3) no one responded to the notice of seizure, intentionally or unintentionally (because they did not receive it).

Here’s the notice:

CAFRA Notice of seizure and intent to Forfeit Detroit It shows $20,242 was seized for a failure to report. Never, ever file a claim or a petition with CBP without first consulting with a lawyer (like me) who deals with Customs seizures first. Don’t use your immigration lawyer, and don’t use an attorney who has more experience with DOJ, FBI, or DEA cases. CBP is different, and most of the time, the cash seizure is for totally different reasons.

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.

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:
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.
The CBP global entry line at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Detroit Metro Airport CBP Seize $59,451 Cash

Finally, a CBP cash seizure press release from my own home port of Detroit that happened at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is just a few miles down the road from our office. This one involves a U.S. citizen returning from China with his wife; together, the couple was found to be transporting more than $10,000 cash through Customs…. about $50,000 more, actually.

Here’s the full story from Detroit CBP:

DETROIT— On November 28, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $59,451 in U.S. currency from a United States citizen after he failed to report the currency to CBP officers. The traveler is a member of the Global Entry trusted traveler program.

The male traveler and his wife arrived in Detroit on a flight from Beijing, China. He initially denied carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. currency or its equivalent in foreign currency. CBP Officers questioned the traveler as he and his wife attempted to exit the federal inspection area separately 13 minutes apart. Further inspection led to the discovery of $59,451 divided between the two.

“You must report to CBP that you are carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency or other monetary instruments when you travel into or out of the United States, especially if you are a member of Global Entry.” said Devin Chamberlain, CBP Detroit (Airport) Port Director. “There is no limit as to how much currency travelers can import or export. However, the law requires travelers to report when they carry at least $10,000 in monetary instruments.  Violators may face criminal prosecution and forfeiture of the undisclosed funds.”

As you can see, this story involves both a failure to report cash to customs and unlawful cash structuring. As we’ve explained time and time again at this customs law blog, cash will be seized by Detroit CBP if it is divided between a husband and wife (or other family members) traveling together and CBP has cause to believe it was done for the purpose of avoiding filing the currency report on form FinCen 105.

Had cash seized at Detroit Metro Airport by CBP?

If you’re like the people in this story and have suffered a cash seizure by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at Detroit Metro Airport, you’re in need of a lawyer to help you get your money back and potentially avoid criminal prosecution or inquiry. Every case is different and nuances, exceptions and interpretations are almost always present making each case unique and challenging. Many people need help even understanding the election of proceedings form that is included with the notice of seizure.

Please make use of our customs currency seizure legal guide, but remember to also take advantage of our free currency seizure consultation by contacting us today by clicking on the contact button!

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

$10k Seized at Detroit Metro by CBP for Money Laundering, more

Most of the time when money is seized, it is for a failure to report currency a few related laws, like bulk cash smuggling and unlawful structuring. On occasion, CBP seizes money for other reasons; such as when they suspect the money is tied to a crime other than the failure to report, bulk cash smuggling or unlawful structuring.

The government has broad authority to seize cash, without much cause, if they believe that is connected to illegal activity. In this case, CBP at Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $10,047 for not only the failure to report, but also for violations of:

Here’s the excerpt from forfeiture.gov:

2016380700073901-001-0000, Seized on 04/29/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY; 115; EA; Valued at $10,047.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956(C)(7), 18USC1591, 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Sometimes people ask: if I carry more than $10,000 with me and report it to CBP, can Customs seize the money? The answer is YES, if CBP suspects it is still connected to a crime. This is kind of asset forfeiture that has been in the news a lot lately, where on the grounds of very little suspcion law enforcement can seize property that they believe is connected to a crime, however tenuous that connection is.

Occasionally, we get calls from people who’ve had money seized by the DEA or ATF when traveling by car or plane domestically. Occasionally, local police seize the money and pass it along to another federal agency, like CBP. If CBP has seized your cash, give us a call at (734) 855-4999, or contact us through the buttons on this website. If would like more information about responding to a money seizure by CBP for failure to report, bulk cash smuggling, or unlawful structuring, you should read our legal guide to a customs money seizure.

An April 22, 2016 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash by CBP Detroit.

Forfeiture Pending for $15,000 Seized at DTW

Here is today’s excerpt from Detroit CBP’s posting on forfeiture.gov — $15,000 seized for failure to failure to report at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW – port code 3807).
The fact that $15,000 was seized by CBP in August 2015, and only 8 months later is the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit being published, tells me that someone tried unsuccessfully to get the money back by making an offer in compromise or an administrative petition. This is why we recommend hiring a customs lawyer to get seized cash back from Customs.

2015380700127501-001-0000, Seized on 08/16/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 150; EA; Valued at $15,000.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316

Once a seizure case goes this far without a resolution administratively, a good outcome for a case such as this is getting any amount of money back, especially when the amount seized is only $15,000.

Has your petition or officer in compromise been denied by CBP in Detroit?

If your petition or offer in compromise has been denied by CBP in Detroit, 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.