Tag: currency seizure

A picture of bulk cash from behind the stereo in the dashboard in a bulk cash smuggling seizure CBP officers removed

CBP Officers Discover $190,000 in Radio

Question: When is a 9 year old Ford Fusion worth more than $7,000? Answer: When there is $190,000 in cash hidden behind the radio. As is always the case with the stories about Customs taking cash at the border with Mexico, this really is not just a “failure to report” but really “bulk cash smuggling.”

The intent to not report the cash can be strongly inferred from its presence behind the radio and the individuals failure to report it. The only way he might not be responsible for the bulk cash smuggling and failure to report crimes is if he did not know the money was there. For example, if he just bought the car and the previous owner preferred to keep his cash in the dashboard of his car instead of a bank account.

Here’s the story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Nogales on June 9 arrested a male Mexican national for failing to report more than $190,000 in U.S. currency bound for Mexico.

Officers working at the Mariposa crossing Friday afternoon referred a 23-year-old driver of a 2008 Ford Fusion for a search of his vehicle before allowing it to cross into Mexico. During the search, officers discovered 24 packages of U.S. currency hidden behind the vehicle’s radio.

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

Let this be a lesson to anyone who is considering keeping their savings in their dashboards. If you forget to remove it or report it to Customs before your cross the border, you may get the money seized by Customs!

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.

$150,000 in bulk cash wrapped in bundles pictured on the on the roof of the vehicle from which the money was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Finds and Seizes $185k in Hidden Cash

CBP seized $185,000 in smuggled currency that was heading into Mexico out of Laredo, Texas, last week, in a story reported by CBP. The story has few details, but tells us that the money was apparently not hid too well because 16 bundles of currency were found after a “non-intrusive” inspection.

What we do now is that the cash and vehicle was seized, and the two individuals in the vehicle were arrested. The rest of the story consists of “boilerplate” statements about the role of CBP in inspecting passengers, seizing currency, and the currency reporting requirement.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to work outbound inspection operations at the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge seized over $185,000 in U.S. currency in a single enforcement action over the weekend.

“CBP officers not only ensure that inbound travelers and cargo comply with U.S. laws and regulations but also conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S. and protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity,” said Port Director Gregory Alvarez, Laredo Port of Entry. “This weekend’s significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing federal currency reporting requirements.”

The seizure occurred on Saturday, April 29, when a CBP officer referred a 2007 Mitsubishi Endeavor for an intensive inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 34-year-old Mexican male citizen from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and a 33-year-old Mexican male citizen as a passenger also from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. A canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers resulted in the discovery of 16 packages containing $185,020 in U.S. currency.

CBP officers seized currency and vehicle. The driver and passenger were arrested and the case was then turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., however, if the quantity is more than $10,000, they will need to report it to CBP. “Money” means monetary instruments and includes U.S. or foreign coins currently in circulation, currency, travelers’ checks in any form, money orders, and negotiable instruments or investment securities in bearer form. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

If CBP seized your cash you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can 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.

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.

Undeclared Currency Seized by CBP

$5.9M in Undeclared Currency Seized in Texas

CBP operates on a fiscal year that runs from October 1 to September 30. For fiscal year 2015, CBP in Laredo Texas field office reported some impressive seizure figures.  Most impressive for our purposes here the amount of undeclared currency seized by CBP Texas — $5.9 million dollars.

This story continues a series of stories we recently published about CBP’s annual currency seizure statistics both nationally, in the souther border states, and in the Detroit field office.

This undeclared currency seized figure, and figures for other seizures by CBP, are in story below:

During FY 2015, CBP officers at eight ports of entry extending from Brownsville to Del Rio that comprise the Laredo Field Office seized 164,418 pounds of narcotics that carried a combined estimated street value of $172 million. This represents a 49 percent increase over the total amount of drugs seized in FY 2014. Specifically, they seized 152,891 pounds of marijuana, up a whopping 54 percent over FY 2014; 5,519 pounds of cocaine; 5,005 pounds of methamphetamine, up 36 percent from FY 2014; 1,003 pounds of heroin, up 31 percent from FY 2014, $5.9 million in undeclared currency, 32 firearms and 7,372 rounds of ammunition.

South Texas CBP officers in FY 2015 determined that a total of  52,809 non-U.S. citizens were inadmissible to the U.S. due to violations of immigration law, a 33 percent increase over FY 2014.

Have you had undeclared currency seized by CBP?

The process of getting undeclared currency seized by CBP back is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If Border Patrol seized cash from 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.

Picture from incident where Border Patrol seized cash showing a black bag with vacuum sealed items inside

Border Patrol Seized Cash at Checkpoint

In this story, Border Patrol seized cash from suspected criminals who were traveling near the I-35 checkpoint in Laredo, Texas. Not only cash was seized, but also a handgun and a lot of marijuana, too. A check point is a place further away from the border than a border-crossing where Border Patrol agents may stop a vehicle for questioning and possible referral for secondary inspection.

Why Border Patrol agents and not Customs officers, specifically? U.S. Customs & Border Protection consists of both Customs officers and Border patrol agents, which are separate offices. Border Patrol agents have authority to operate within the “border zone”, which the area within 100 miles of the U.S. border. You can read more about the 100-mile border zone.

On March 4, 2016, Border Patrol agents from the Laredo Sector Border Patrol thwarted an attempt to smuggle drugs, currency and a weapon at the IH-35 Checkpoint.

Border Patrol agents assigned to the Border Patrol Checkpoint on Interstate Highway 35 encountered a truck at the primary inspection lane.  The driver and passenger were being questioned regarding their immigration status, and were subsequently referred by agents to secondary for further inspection of the vehicle.

While at secondary, agents conducted a thorough inspection of the truck, finding several large duffle bags with bundles inside, a handgun and currency inside the vehicle.  The bundles tested positive for marijuana.  A total of 12 bundles were removed from the vehicle with a total weight of 252.8 pounds and a street value of $202,560.00 USD. The subject was placed under arrest, and the narcotics and subject were turned over to DEA.  The handgun was turned over to ATF.

Has Border Patrol seized cash from you?

The process of getting money back from CBP is long and complicated; most importantly, legitimate source and intended use must be proven. If Border Patrol seized cash from 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.

 

Two red envelopes with Chinese characters on them and stuffed with U.S. dollars.

Why some Chinese travel with cash leading to airport seizures

One question I face from most Americans when I tell them that our customs law firm helps people recover from money after customs money seizure is, “Why would anyone travel with all that money?”

Two red envelopes (hongbao) with Chinese characters on them and stuffed with U.S. dollars.
Some Chinese bring money in red envelopes (hongbao) for the Chinese new year celebration to give to family

It’s a good question.The answer? Many foreign governments, China in particular, restrict the amount and method that its citizens can take from the country via capital-controls; when the economy tanks or the currency is devalued, it increases the desire to move the money into another country before the market gets worse.

A few years ago the Wall Street Journal did a story about rich Chinese trying to get their money out of China, in the form of cash, that illustrates this point. The story is Chinese Fly Cash West, by the Suitcase and it provides some insight into why people travel with Cash from China, and why Customs seizes this money from them at airports:

China restricts private citizens from taking out more than $50,000 per individual per year. While it is hard to enforce these restrictions, Chinese authorities are scrutinizing outgoing private cash amid a broad anticorruption drive and as worry grows over the risks of capital flight.

The money seized at airports represents just a sliver of private Chinese money pouring out, but highlights that Chinese citizens are turning to one of the oldest and simplest methods to evade those controls: taking cash out in a suitcase.

The articles goes on to say:

From 2009 to 2011, U.S. airport customs officers seized over $5 million in undeclared cash from Chinese citizens, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That is 8.4% of the total seized and more than double the nearest amount for another nationality.

Transporting large amounts of cash isn’t necessarily illegal. Travelers must declare cash over $10,000 when they land in Canada or the U.S. Most undeclared cash is temporarily seized and subject to fines. If customs agents believe the cash comes from illegal activities, the onus is on the traveler to prove otherwise before it is returned.

I would correct this final paragraph with a few legal subtleties. If any amount of money is undeclared to customs, all of the money transported may be seized and, if legitimate source and use are not proven to Customs, will be forfeited forever (i.e., lost). This burden is on the traveler whether or not Customs believe the cash comes from illegal activities. It must always be proven.

Moving cash from China subjects a person to fines in China:

In China, violators of Beijing’s rules on moving out cash are also subject to fines. From 2007 to 2011, China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange levied such fines totaling 1.27 billion yuan ($202 million), according to the most recent data available.

The story goes on to state that seizures from 2009 to 2011 dramatically increased at airports in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and San Francisco for money seized by Customs from Chinese nationals. But the numbers seized by U.S. Customs were smaller than that seized by Canadian customs. Apparently because property rules rules and investor visas are easier to obtain.

The New York Times also published a story we tweeted about:

I’m sure the cash is flooding the U.S. market now for the same reasons. Customs will seize unreported money from any Chinese traveler or immigrant at any U.S. airport if they catch them.

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!

 

U.S. Customs Confiscates $50k in Cash at Texas Airports

Customs officers confiscated a total of nearly $50,000 from international travelers at Texas airports in the last few weeks alone. Specifically, the cash seizure by customs was at San Antonio International Airport and at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. The first story involves $16,000 of currency that sounds like it was structured by an adult father and daughter traveling together in order to evade the reporting requirement. The story finishes by stating that in the last fiscal year (ending October 31), CBP seized more than $81,496,161 ($81.5 million!) in undeclared or illicit currency.

San Antonio Airport picture of $16,000 in unreported currency.
San Antonio International Airport discovered a pair of travelers carrying over $16,000 in unreported currency.

On Nov. 3, CBP officers working at the San Antonio International Airport discovered a pair of travelers carrying over $16,000 in unreported currency.  The travelers, who are citizens of Mexico and traveling together, arrived separately to CBP for processing and each reported they were traveling alone.  

Both who claimed to be traveling alone and reported carrying less than $10,000. However when question furthered, the travelers, a father, 53 and his daughter 27 admitted that they were in fact traveling together.  The amount of currency discovered among their belongings added up to $16,000.   The currency was seized for failure to properly report currency in an aggregate amount exceeding $10,000.

The second story involves a single traveler leaving for Argentina who reported only having $9,000, but really had more than $33,000 (tsk tsk). In addition, the money was not in a single location but was in “several envelopes stashed among his belongings.” The fact that it was stashed may give rise to bulk cash smuggling as a second ground for seizure beyond the failure to report.

Three days later at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport CBP officers seized currency from a traveler who was departing the United States head to Argentina.  The passenger reported $9,000 in his possession, however when CBP officers completed the currency verification, more than $33,400 was discovered.  The cash was found in several envelopes stashed among his belongings. CBP seized the currency.

Cash that was discovered in several envelopes stashed among belongings.
The cash was found in several envelopes stashed among his belongings. CBP seized the currency.

International travelers with negotiable monetary instruments valued at $10,000 or greater in their possession must complete a form FinCEN 105, Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments according to U.S. law.  Negotiable monetary instruments include currency, personal checks that have been endorsed, travelers’ checks, gold coins, securities or stocks in bearer form.