Tag: cash seizure at airport

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP at Dulles Airport seizes $50k Cash Leaving Country

Dulles CBP has made a few notable seizures recently. Dulles cash seizures always seem to hit the CBP news release cycle, and last week was no exception. CBP reported on the seizure of almost fifty-grand in cash from travelers leaving the United States, so here is the story:

CBP officers seized $29,698 from a Qatar-bound family Saturday.  Officers explained the currency reporting regulations to the family and the father reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $14,000.  The man presented an envelope that contained $10,000 and $4,000 in pocket cash.  CBP officers then asked if he possessed additional currency, to which the man presented an additional $5,698.  An examination of the wife’s purse resulted in the discovery of an additional $10,000.  CBP officers returned $698 to the family and released them to continue their journey.

CBP officers seized $18,900 from a Ghana-bound man Tuesday.  The traveler reported verbally and in writing that he possessed $12,000.  During an examination, CBP officers discovered the additional cash.  Officers returned $500 to the traveler for humanitarian purposes and released him to continue his journey.

The original story says that everyone was a U.S. citizen, and non were criminally charged. In my experience, Dulles will likely say that both of these cases involved bulk cash smuggling, and therefore, they are able to keep at least 50% of the money that was seized according to CBP’s mitigation guidelines.

This Dulles cash seizure should also serve as a reminder to everyone that a report is required even when LEAVING the country, not just upon arrival. If you look closely, you’ll probably see signs in the airport containing notices about the reporting requirement.

A pile of $20 bills on a table.

CBP Seizes Structured Cash at Dulles

CBP Dulles seized over $23,000 that was unlawfully structured and not reported. Below, the story from CBP, explains that the a man was leaving the United States for South Africa and reported only $9,000, when he really had more than $13,000. This is the second recent story about a cash seizure at Dulles for from someone traveling to South Africa.

To make matters worse, CBP discovered that he was traveling with his sister, who was carrying another $10,000 for her brother. At Dulles airport, a structuring offense means a hefty penalty even if legitimate source and intended use of the documentation is presented.

Here are the interesting parts of the story, as told from the perspective of CBP Dulles:

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $23,000 from a South Africa-bound traveler on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

During an outbound inspection, a CBP currency detection canine alerted to the carryon bags of a U.S. citizen.  The man, both verbally and in writing, declared to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000; however, $13,267 was discovered in his bags and on his person.  During the course of the inspection it was determined that he was traveling with his sister, a Ghanaian citizen.  An additional $10,000 in unreported currency was found in her bags which the man stated belonged to him.  The officers seized the $23,267, returned $667 to the man for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

Did you structure cash seized by CBP?

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


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

CBP Cash Seizure Trends Change

CBP cash seizure trends change over the years. For example, a recent money seizure at Dulles Airport tells me that Dulles CBP seems to be ramping up enforcement of the currency reporting requirement. As with the most recent stories we’ve put up on this customs law blog, this story likewise involves person traveling to Africa — a report of $18,000 was made, but the amount he transported actually was $28,518.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized $28,518 Monday from a U.S. citizen for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

A man, who is a resident of Georgia, was boarding a flight to Ethiopia and was selected for questioning by CBP officers who were conducting an outbound enforcement operation on the international flight.  The man completed a financial form, reporting $18,000 however; a total of $28,518 was discovered on his person and in his luggage.  CBP officers seized the $28,518 and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.

The fact that many cash seizures at Dulles have occurred to people traveling to and from Africa is interesting (to us, anyway); because as populations shift, market demands change, airlines change routes, add new destinations, or go in-and-out of business, so to do enforcement opportunities by CBP.

With an improving African economy, more cash goes to and from the country. What is true now about people traveling to Africa was not true in the 1970s, and may not be true in the 2030s. Enforcement may shift with shifting immigrant populations. For example, if China’s economy is on the brink of collapse, Chinese nationals are going to try to get their cash out of the country. That means heightened cash seizure opportunities by CBP at every international airport where those flights will land.

For example, a few years back there was a big spike in cash seizures from Mongolians at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The reason for the cash seizure trend changing was was an improving Mongolian economy and convenient flights between Chicago O’Hare International airport and Ulaanbataar, Mongolia.

You should go back and read our blog posts about Chinese importing money into the United States and our popular article about targeted enforcement of customs money seizures for more information on this phenomenon.