Tag: cash seizure

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.

 

$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 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.

 

Trucks line up for inspection at Peace Bridge Port of Entry, Buffalo, N.Y.

CBP Buffalo Seizes $144,733 Cash

During fiscal year 2017, CBP in Buffalo reports they seized cash from a total of 10 people, and a total amongst those 10 of $144,733. I didn’t have any clients among those 10 last year, but I have handled cash seizure cases in Buffalo in the past.

In years past, we’ve commented on the annual fiscal year report from CBP in Buffalo.

  • FY 2015: CBP Buffalo seized $267,323 in a total of 22 currency seizures;
  • FY 2014: CBP Buffalo seized over $450,000 in a total of 23 currency seizures;

Here’s the breakdown of all Enforcement and Traffic incidents at the Port of Buffalo from October 2016 through October 2017:

Enforcement Statistics Traffic Statistics
Narcotic Seizures

640

Port of Entry

Personal Vehicles

Trucks

Arrests

507

Currency Seizures

10 Totaling: $144,733

Buffalo

4,814,967

960,791

Merchandise Seizures

1,564 Totaling: $2,133,393

Champlain

1,004,351

309,327

Inadmissibles

11,340

Trout River

149,279

16,586

Agriculture Pest Interceptions

1,374

Alex Bay

594,002

204,264

Trade Seizures

1,331 Totaling:

$1,712,599 DV

Massena

855,787

27,256

Intellectual Property Rights Seizures

1,230 Totaling:

$1,576,944 DV

Ogdensburg

292,808

39,283

Note: DV refers to domestic value

Have you cash seized by CBP in Buffalo?

If Buffalo 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 currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Dulles Airport CBP Took Cash from Husband and Wife

Dulles Airport CBP Seizes $25k from Bosnia and Herzegovina-bound travelers

Cash seizures at airports have spiked in Detroit, and also apparently in other regions, such as Dulles airport. As a case in point, here is yet another story about CBP seizing cash from a traveler at the airport in Sterling, Virginia: Washington Dulles International Airport.

Here is the full story (original here):

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $25,000 Wednesday from travelers departing Washington Dulles International Airport for violating federal currency reporting regulations.A Bosnia and Herzegovina-bound family reported to CBP officers that they possessed $9,000. The father then signed a U.S. Treasury form reporting they possessed $15,000.A CBP inspection discovered a total of $19,754 in U.S. dollars and 5,085 Euros, combined equivalent to $25,616 in U.S. dollars, in possession of the three-person family.

CBP officers seized the currency and returned 985 Euros ($1,135 U.S. dollar equivalent) to the family for humanitarian purposes.  No charges were filed.  Officers released the family to continue their travel.

And here is what CBP Dulles is saying about the up-tick in airport currency seizures on their watch:

This is CBP’s third outbound currency seizure in two weeks at Dulles.  CBP officers seized $29,698 from a Qatar-bound family July 9 and $18,900 from a Ghana-bound man July 11. Read more about those unreported currency seizures.

“These continued currency seizures clearly illustrate the consequences of travelers not making truthful declarations to Customs and Border Protection officers,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles.  “The best way to keep all of your currency is to honestly report it all to Customs and Border Protection officers during inspection.”

They go on to get the reporting requirement, wrong, again (hint: it is more than $10,000, not $10,000 or

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.

 

It is also true that none of the money is taxed, at least by Customs. If it is considered “income,” it may be taxable. But if you’ve already paid income taxes on the money, then it is definitely not taxable again by the IRS.

Has CBP seized your cash at the airport?

If CBP seized your cash at the airport, 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.

9 bundles of United States currency

Detroit cash seizures up in FY 2017

CBP has organized itself around a fiscal year that is different from the calendar year; every October 1 begins the government’s new “fiscal year”, and so too, begins CBP’s tracking of seizure activity at its various ports of entry. In years’ past, we have reported, in particular, on Detroit’s fiscal year seizure activity. For example, in 2015 CBP in Detroit had an exceptional cash seizure year during their fiscal year 2015, seizing more than $10 million from 540 people (roughly $838,924.58 per month). After that news was published, I was anxious to see what happened in 2016; but alas, not cash seizure summary for Detroit was ever published.

But, we do have some preliminary indications that 2017 will be a ‘good year’ for CBP in terms of cash seizure. Probably not so good for travelers, though. Here is the excerpt from the CBP story:

So far this fiscal year which began October 1, ports within the Detroit Field Office have seized more than $4.4 million dollars, an 8 percent increase over the same time frame last fiscal year.

To further break this apart, if $4.4 million is over a 7 month period, then it is $628,571.42 per month, or a decrease of more than $210,000 from FY 2015. We shall see what the future holds for FY 2017. In my spare time (ha ha), I will reach out to Detroit to see where I can get my hands on the totals for 2016.

Bulk cash hidden in the vehicle panels seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes Money Going into Mexico

20 stacks of new U.S. currency seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for smuggling and failure to report cash to customs
CBP in Lukeville Arizona seized $38,000 of concealed currency heading into Mexico.

Here’s a quick story about a money seizure that happened when someone was going into Mexico earlier this week.CBP seized almost $40k in cash that was hidden in the interior panel of a van in Lukeville, Arizona. The driver was a 31 year old Mexican man. Here’s the brief story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a 31-year-old Mexican man Saturday after finding $38,000 of unreported U.S. currency concealed in a quarter panel of his Ford van.

Officers seized the money and vehicle, and turned the driver over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Every once in a while a seizure like this is not connected to the drug trade. I’ve represented people who’ve had cash seized crossing the border with Mexico who hid it in the vehicle just to keep it safe. In a case like this, even if the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use the person involved is still responsible for a bulk cash smuggling violation. The consequences of that include forfeiture (permanent loss) of all the money, fines, and jail time. The best case scenario would be no criminal charges, and a return of most of the money.

Have you had money seized going into Mexico?

If you had money seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection going into Mexico 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.

Dulles Customs Seizes $113k from 5 People

Dulles airport is a new hotbed for CBP cash seizures. And based on the volume of stories coming out from CBP about currency seizures they’ve conducted, they love to talk about. In fact, in the last 2 weeks CBP seized money from 5 different groups of people for “intentionally” violating the federal currency reporting regulations.

It’s curious that CBP should state that the law was “intentionally” violated, as intent has nothing to do with whether the law was broken (at least, in CBP’s interpretation of the law). The only thing that is require for a violation of the cash reporting law is a knowing transportation or more than $10,000 into or out of the country, not a knowing violation of the reporting requirement. It is, in the legal world, called a “bright line” rule. In other words, if you leave or enter the country with more than $10,000 and you do not report it, it does not matter why you did not report it, you’ve broken the law by the very transportation of the money itself.

Here is the whole story concerning the 5 recent seizures at Dulles, as told by CBP:

A handful of international travelers learned of the value of truthfully reporting all currency they possessed to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport recently. That value came to about $113,000 in seized currency.

CBP officers seized a total of $112,819 during five seizures over the last 10 days for violating federal currency reporting requirements.  These currency seizures included:

  • $36,639 from a family departing Washington Dulles for Laos on October 25;
  • $14,221 from a woman departing to South Korea on October 24;
  • $22,034 from man who arriving from Ghana on October 22;
  • $17,946 from a man and woman departing to El Salvador on October 18; and
  • $21,979 from a man departing to Belgium.

In each incident, CBP officers allowed the travelers multiple opportunities to be truthful, and to read, understand and acknowledge the currency reporting law before officers inspected the travelers. In each incident, CBP officers found additional currency above what the travelers repeatedly claimed they possessed.

As customs stated, the total of these seizures exceeded the $73,900 that CBP officers seized from Serbian bound man on October 3. What’s up, Dulles CBP? Have your currency seizure reporting priorities just kicked up a few notches?

A picture of nearly $150,000 in cash seized by CBP laid out on a table

Seizures of undeclared cash from Chinese nationals on the rise

In “Seizures of undeclared cash spike at Vancouver International Airport“, reporters for The Globe & Mail did a lot of good reporting work and present interesting information on customs cash seizures from Chinese nationals occurring in Canada.

For instance, in the past 3 years customs seized $13 million dollars from 792 Chinese nationals passing through the airport. The average seizure was $17,000. The substance of the article is that these people are bringing the money into the country to get it out of China’s economy (which they fear may crash), to buy homes and/or invest in real estate. This has artificially inflated the property values in cities like Vancouver, and the government there imposed a tax on foreign purchasers of real estate to cool the market. We’ve previously blogged about this in Cash From China Seized Due to Capital Controls and Why some Chinese travel with cash leading to airport seizures.

If you’re interested in customs cash seizures, you should definitely check out the entire article. However, I’ll quote what I find most interesting below:

As Vancouver’s housing market began sizzling, border guards at the nearby international airport were seizing millions of dollars in undeclared cash from Chinese citizens, with total amounts jumping 50 per cent in each of the past three calendar years, government data show.

According to the information, released to The Globe and Mail by a New Democrat MLA, during that period, border guards confiscated more than $13-million in hidden currency from 792 Chinese people passing through Vancouver International Airport, which is Canada’s second-busiest after Toronto. The average person had $17,000 in hidden bills, bank notes or drafts.

That is in addition to the $323-million declared at the airport by 20,000 Chinese citizens or passengers on flights to and from that country, during roughly the same period, according to data released to The Globe through a freedom of information request.

Experts say these sums of hidden and declared money, which dwarf the funds brought through the airport from other countries, were likely carried by some of the 922,000 people from China recently given 10-year temporary visas, which allow them to visit for up to six months at a time.

Former RCMP investigator and financial crimes specialist Kim Marsh said many travellers bring large amounts of money – or bank notes or drafts – instead of transferring them through institutional routes because they want to avoid paying taxes in Canada and get around Chinese currency laws that make it illegal for the average citizen to take more than $50,000 (U.S.) a year out of that country.

[ . . . ]

Daniel Kiselbach, a Vancouver-based tax litigator, said the vast majority of Chinese citizens bringing large amounts of cash into B.C. are “just trying to get along in life and they have legitimate reasons for having the money in their possession,” such as buying gifts for family members or paying for living expenses at university.

He said that these visitors have many disincentives to report their assets to the Chinese government and are likely just as suspicious of how information on their finances will be handled in Canada.

“Maybe that would get back to the Chinese government, I don’t know,” Mr. Kiselbach said.

Two years ago, Mr. Kiselbach tried to get Ottawa to divulge whether it has an agreement to share such information with China, as it does with the United States and other Commonwealth countries. Canada Border Services Agency does not make these agreements public, he said.

Vancouver MLA David Eby, housing critic for the opposition New Democrats, said he is concerned that the amount of cash seized from Chinese citizens at YVR rose from $2.8-million in 2013 to $6.4-million last year.

[. . . ]

Anyone can bring as much money as they want in or out of Canada as long as they declare any sum of $10,000 or more – otherwise it could be seized. Border guards at Vancouver airport confiscated $19-million in undeclared cash from 2013 to 2015, with almost three quarters of it belonging to Chinese citizens. (Upwards of 3,200 passengers arrive each day from flights originating in Hong Kong and mainland China, according to data from the airport.)

Experts say Chinese travellers could have several reasons for not declaring assets.

Mr. Kiselbach added that CBSA likely ramped up the scrutiny on Chinese passengers because it gives increased attention to citizens from countries deemed a high risk for activities such as money laundering and financing terrorism.

Hayley Howe, an anti-money laundering expert at Vancouver-based consulting firm MNP, said many foreign visitors may be unaware of Canada’s currency reporting requirements or unable to read the customs form properly when they enter or exit the country.

Has U.S. Customs & Border Protection  seized your cash?

If U.S. Customs & Border Protection 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.

A picture of a CBP officer watching travelers at an airport. CBP Officers at Philadelphia International Airport seized $26,000 from a couple going to Greece for a failure to report the cash

CBP’s Big Fat Greek Cash Seizure

In Philadelphia, CBP did what you might call a big, fat, greek cash seizure, when they seized $26,000 from a couple who were leaving the United States for Greece.

The couple reported $17,000, but for some reason they did not report the other $9,000, which was found in “multiple envelopes.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $26,000 from a Greece-bound couple who violated federal currency reporting regulations at Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday.

During an outbound inspection, the couple reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $17,000. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered multiple envelopes that contained a combined $27,052. CBP officers provided the couple a humanitarian release of $501 and seized the remaining $26,551.

Officers released the couple to continue their travel to Greece.

Why would the couple fail to report the extra $9,000 to CBP? There are some things we do not know for certain. For example, the CBP officer could have led the couple to believe they only needed to report their own money, not money they were carrying for others; they could have asked them how much money they were carrying “in your carry-on”, when the other money was stashed away in a purse. And they could have panicked.

The story says that the couple was allowed to continue their travel to Greece. Most of my clients who’ve had money seized from Customs have to re-book for another flight, because the process of counting the money and seizing results can be a substantial delay. Sometimes my client’s don’t continue to their destination even if they can, because they have no money to travel with.

I’ve had clients who’ve taken a month off work for a vacation to their homeland, only to have their money seized with no source of funds to continue on the trip until they get their cash back. When CBP seizes cash, it is very often a heartbreaking, stressful, and traumatic experience.

But we are here to help! If you want to learn more about responding to a customs cash seizure in Philadelphia or anywhere else, read our trusted customs cash seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.