Tag: cash seized by customs

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.

 

 

A overhead shot $43,000 mostly in $20 bills that was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection protection heading outbound to Mexico.

CBP Seized Hidden Cash from US Citizen in Texas

The CBP news release feed has been full of news about various enforcement actions on the immigration side of its mission, but with fewer news releases about currency reporting enforcement. Of course, there was the story about the smuggling of horse meat from Mongolia a few days ago.

There has not been much news about currency seizures, although we have noticed no downturn in cash seizure activity on the part of CBP…. but then CBP released this story out of Presidio, Texas, which is your run-of-the-mill bulk cash smuggling seizure that occurs at our border with Mexico.

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $43,514 Tuesday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the center console and air manifold of a pick-up truck.

CBP officers were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 5:25 p.m. a 2010 Ford F-150 pick-up driven by a 27-year-old U.S. citizen from Andrews, Texas, approached the checkpoint. The driver and vehicle were selected for an intensive inspection. During inspection of the vehicle the officers noticed anomalies in the appearance of the vehicle. Inspection of the center console revealed currency bundles wrapped in plastic bags hidden within. Further inspection of the vehicle led to more bundles hidden in the air filter housing and side dashboard panel. A total of nine bundles were removed from the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver to ICE HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt. He was arrested and federal prosecution accepted.

“CBP officers are working hard to stop the illegal movement of guns, ammunition and unreported currency,” said Michael Neipert, CBP 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.”

I am impressed that this was called what it was: a bulk cash smuggling seizure. As I’ve pointed out in the past, CBP often calls these failures to report cash; technically true, but not the most accurate name them.

CBP Seized Cash From Travelers in 2015

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) seized cash from travelers in lower numbers in 2015 compared to 2014. In its Border Security Report (which can be read in HERE), CBP says it “seized more than $129 million in unreported currency through targeted enforcement operations.” “Targeted enforcement operations” is just a fancy way of saying that they seized cash from travelers at a border crossing at an airport.

What is noteworthy is that CBP cash seizures from travelers is way down from last year – by about 54%. In 2014, the total amount of cash seized from travelers was $237 million. It breaks down the number for four southwest states:

  • Arizona = $2,102,688 (way down from $3,475,523 last year)
  • Texas = $9,171,935 (slightly up from $7,732,830 last year)
  • New Mexico = $975,880 (slightly up from $969,830 last year)
  • California = $7,739,869 (way down from $12,908,976 last year)

In 2013, CBP seized cash from travelers in the amount of about $106 million. So the numbers are less than last year’s staggering numbers — by a lot, but more in line with the totals from the year before last. It will be interesting to see what 2016 holds travelers who get their cash taken by CBP. We will not now until the beginning of CBP’s fiscal year, which starts on October 1, 2016.

We should also note that these numbers very likely include not only money seized for “unreported currency” but also for currency that was structured or part of a bulk cash smuggling offense.

CBP seized cash from travelers like you!

If CBP seized cash from travelers like 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.

 

Texas CBP seized cash. A picture of 19 stacks of $20 and $100 bills part of the cash seized by CBP at Hidalgo International Bridge

Texas CBP Seized Cash at Hidalgo

Texas CBP seized cash from a man heading into Mexico in January, the amount of cash totaled about $300,000 cash and was seized by CBP at the Hidalgo International Bridge. The money appears to have

Texas CBP seized cash. A picture of 19 stacks of $20 and $100 bills part of the cash seized by CBP at Hidalgo International Bridge
Texas CBP seized cash at the Hidalgo International Bridge

been part concealed in the vehicle, which means it is potentially a bulk cash smuggling offense.

Texas CBP seized cash from him after they decided to give his vehicle a closer inspection — what is commonly called a “secondary examination.” Here is the story:

HIDALGO, Texas—U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) at the Hidalgo International Bridge intercepted $269,525 in unreported U.S. currency from a Donna, Texas man who was allegedly attempting to exit into Mexico.

“Working outbound operations at our international bridges allows us to detect export violations, which include failure to adhere to federal currency reporting requirements,” said Port Director Efrain Solis, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “Importing or exporting currency is a simple process, and a traveler can lawfully transport any amount of currency as long as these currency reporting requirements are followed.”

On Jan. 19, CBP officers assigned to outbound operations at the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge encountered a 33-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a white 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck attempting to exit into Mexico. Officers selected him and his vehicle for further inspection and during the secondary examination, officers discovered bundles of U.S. currency hidden within the pickup. CBP OFO removed and seized nine bundles containing a total of $269,525 in unreported U.S. currency.

Has Texas CBP seized cash from you?

If Texas CBP seized cash from 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.

 

Picture of what the cash seized at Dulles airport looked similar to.

Cash seized at Dulles airport by CBP

A Chinese traveler had cash seized at Dulles airport, again, last week. This time it was $20,377, instead of $16,000 in cash seized by CBP there last week.

Dulles airport CBP seems to be on a roll. This story has the man reporting $10,000, but carrying $20,377 on his person and in his luggage. In addition to the failure to report, that failure to report combined with the presence of the money in the luggage could be the basis for an allegation of bulk cash smuggling.

Here’s the story about the cash seized at Dulles airport last week (as told by CBP):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized $20,377 Monday from a Chinese citizen for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

The man, who arrived on a flight from China, declared to CBP officers that he was carrying $10,000 and completed a financial form reporting the same. However; CBP officers discovered a total of $20,377 on his person and in his luggage. CBP officers seized the $20,377 and advised him how to petition for the return of the rest of the currency.

Always remember, legitimate source and legitimate use of the seized cash must be proven before Customs is legally required to consider returning the money. The types of documentation that is needed to prove this varies in every situation, and documentation should only be provided to CBP after

Picture of what the cash seized at Dulles airport looked similar to.
A Chinese citizen had cash seized at Dulles airport.

consultation with an attorney (here’s why). A customs lawyer will have a much better chance at getting your cash returned than doing it on your own.

If you’ve had cash seized at Dulles airport, or another airport, you can learn more from our trusted legal road-map of a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

CBP Seized $45k cash in Nassau

CBP has preclearance centers which are basically the same as customs in the United States, but just located in a foreign country; this is to facilitate travel and enforcement of the laws. One such law enforced at preclearance centers is the requirement to report more than $10,000 being transported into the United States. CBP has pre-clearance in the Bahamas.

Over the weekend, Customs seized $45,000 in Nassau from one or more people for failing to report currency over $10,000, and tweeted a picture of the seizure:

This was responded to by a tweet that made me smile: “What are you going to do with it?” Classic! CBP has not responded (in fact, they may have deleted the tweet?). But here’s our answer so you will know what customs does with seized cash. I went ahead and explained that customs does not always keep seized currency if the person can prove it came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use by responding to the notice of seizure

Which caused another person to ask:

I responded that the best answer is is probably “Sometimes” and that the reporting requirement is actually “more than $10,000” not $10,000. Remember, I say sometimes because even if you make the an accurate report the money is still subject to seizure for other reasons, such as a suspicion that it is connected to money laundering or some criminal activity.

I suspect this Nassau customs cash confiscation of $45,000 is the result of more than one currency seizure for failure to report. That’s because the picture cash in the picture does not appear to add up to $45,000, but somewhere around $30,000 (assuming each stack is $1,000).

Don’t forget to follow Great Lakes Customs Law on Twitter!

 

$39K in Unreported Currency by U.S. Customs at Houston Airport

U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizes a lot of money. In the last fiscal year, customs seized more than $81 million dollars in “undeclared or illicit currency.” On June 6, Customs seized over $39,000 in cash from a traveler arriving from Nicaragua. The story says it was seized for a “failure to properly report currency” exceeding $10,000, however, the fact that the money was tucked away in the pockets of 3 different pairs of jeans could give Customs enough facts to allege that it was concealed for the purposes of evading the report requirement — otherwise known as bulk cash smuggling.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, June 6, seized over $39,000 after a traveler failed to properly report the money as required by U.S. law.

Customs Seizes $39k from Nicaraguan Traveler
Some of the money was stored in the pocket of the traveler’s clothing.

The traveler, a 39-year-old U. S. citizen, arrived from Managua, Nicaragua and was enroute to Los Angeles, California.

While conducting an enforcement operation, CBP Officers encountered the traveler, and asked if he was transporting more than $10,000 in either currency or other monetary instruments. The traveler reported he was transporting $7,800; however, a search of his luggage discovered U.S. currency tucked in the pockets of three pair of jeans packed in his suitcase. The total amount of currency seized was $ 39,162.

The currency was seized for failure to properly report currency in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000.

“International travelers are provided multiple opportunities to truthfully report the amount of currency they are carrying,” said CBP Port Director Charles Perez. “Those who refuse to comply with the federal reporting requirements face the risk of having that currency seized.

“There is absolutely no limit to the amount of currency a traveler can bring into or take out of the United State,” Perez added. “The only requirement is to report amounts that reach or exceed $10,000.”

Travelers report currency by completing FinCEN Form 105 and giving it to a CBP officer. Currency is not limited to U.S. currency, but includes all negotiable monetary instruments such as Traveler’s Checks, money orders and securities. A complete list of negotiable monetary instruments is available on FinCEN Form 105.

Some of that money might be connected to illegal activity but a lot of that money is also from innocent, arriving travelers, confused about the currency reporting requirement. This appears to be one of those innocent cases where, for whatever reason (be it panic, ignorance, or unfair questioning), he only reported $7,800 instead of the nearly $40,000 that he was carrying. Because Customs has not disclosed his name, it sounds as though criminal charges were not filed yet.

If you have had your currency seized, please call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

Smuggled Cash in Tire Seized by Customs

Not all stories about cash seized by customs have such great pictures. In September, Customs reported on the discovery of over a half-million dollars concealed in the spare tire of an automobile headed for Mexico. The cash was seized by customs. That story, and the pictures, is what follows (with my emphasis in bold):

Cash Smuggled in TireCalexico, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested a Tecate man on Friday after discovering $654,900 in unreported U.S. currency hidden in the spare tire of the vehicle he was driving.

The incident occurred at about 5:45 a.m. on August 30th, when CBP officers, together with members of the Imperial Valley Border Enforcement Security Task Force (IV-BEST), were conducting southbound inspections of travelers heading to Mexico through the Calexico downtown port of entry. Officers targeted a 2011 Toyota Tacoma and referred the driver for further examination.

During an intensive inspection that included an alert from a detector dog and the usage of the port’s imaging system, officers discovered 24 wrapped packages of U.S. currency concealed inside the vehicle’s spare tire.

The driver, a 45-year-old Mexican citizen, was turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents with the IV-BEST for further processing, and was later transported to the Imperial County Jail to await arraignment.

CBP placed an immigration hold on the driver to initiate removal from the United States at the conclusion of his criminal proceedings.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle.

It is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling more than $10,000 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.

 

This is no doubt a criminal prosecution and the person could be determined to be guilty of bulk cash smuggling and failure to report currency over $10,000, and the cash seized by customs will will be forfeited and become the property of the government. If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?