U.S. Customs reports on a recent customs money seizure from a woman attempting to cross the border. Something tipped the customs officers off as she left the U.S. and put her through a secondary inspection where they found, lo and behold, $82,077. If this individual is not prosecuted by the government for criminal violations, she faces the potentially difficult task of proving a legitimate source and legitimate intended use of the money. You can read our popular page on Responding to a Customs Money Seizure HERE.
Also, Customs gets the law wrong again, which now I am pretty sure they keep doing to get me worked up. The law only applies to “more than $10,000” not “$10,000 or more.” It’s the difference of a penny, but it’s still wrong to say $10,000 or more. Here is the story:
On Dec. 14, CBP officers working outbound operations at the Gateway International Bridge selected a white 1999 Cadillac Escalade for a secondary inspection. The driver, a 31-year-old female U.S. citizen from Brownsville, was arrested after officers discovered packages containing unreported U.S. currency concealed within the Escalade. Officers removed and seized three packages
that contained [$82,077 in] U.S. currency which was allegedly was being taken into Mexico without being properly reported.
After CBP Field Operations arrested the adult female, she was turned over to agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for further investigation.
It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more 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. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.
In this case, we could give the woman the benefit of the doubt and presume the legitimate source is the proceeds of a decade worth of scrimping and saving; and the intended use, perhaps she is a very generous person and was going to buy Christmas presents in Mexico, with cash. Then Customs swoops in, seizes her money, and ruins all her plans. But, if we assume she proves these two things, then this situation is regrettable for him and completely avoidable. But now, even if criminal charges are ultimately not filed or if he is ultimately found not guilty of a crime, she will still face civil forfeiture of the money and, if he wants it back, will have to fight for its return administratively, or in the courts.
Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country; call (734) 855-4999 to consult with a customs lawyer today. If you have had money seized by Detroit CBP/customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page (see our case results here). We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.
Please read these other articles on customs moneys eizures:
- Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
- Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
- Structuring currency imports and exports
- Is it $10,000 per person? Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
- Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
- Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
- How do I get my seized money back from customs?
- Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
- How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
- Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures