Tag: customs cash seizure

An image of $3M in crisp bills stacked high in a cube in bundles

CBP San Diego Seized Unreported Smuggled Cash

CBP in San Diego has quite a few ports, including Calexico, Otay Mesa, Cross Border Xpress, San Ysidro, and Tecate. CBP seizes cash from travelers heading into and out of Mexico from the United States at each of them. A lot of the cash seized there is for innocent reasons, such as workers moving across the border with their savings, people traveling to invest in property in Mexico, medical procedures, etc. Many of these cash seizures by customs are for a simple failure to report.

Back in September, one of these money seizures made it into the CBP news release cycle, and I’m just now getting to posting about it here. In this particular story, a vehicle was heading to Mexico at Otay Mesa , when officers discovered currency hidden (probably bulk cash smuggling!) In a backpack wrapped in a black shirt. Here’s the full story:

SAN DIEGO — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $90,000 in currency at the ports of entry along the California borders with Mexico, encompassing Andrade, Calexico, Otay Mesa, Cross Border Xpress, San Ysidro and Tecate.

From Sept. 21 to Sept. 27, CBP officers with the help of CBP K-9 teams intercepted numerous currency smuggling attempts heading south of the border into Mexico. CBP officers identified specific vehicles for inspection resulting in the discovery of unreported currency that was being smuggled out of the country.

“I can honestly say that teamwork played a big role after seeing the successful rate of interceptions,” said Anne Maricich, Director of Field Operations for CBP in San Diego. “Their enforcement efforts and experience are put to the test regularly and the results are phenomenal when the focus is to protect this country.”

One of the most significant seizures during this past week occurred Friday when CBP officers stopped a vehicle at Otay Mesa headed into Mexico.  CBP officers targeted a 2016 Cadillac CTS with two occupants. While searching the vehicle, officers discovered almost $51,000 of unreported currency hidden inside a baby backpack wrapped in a black shirt, located on floor of the front passenger side.  CBP officer seized the currency.

Has San Diego CBP seized your cash?

If San Diego CBP seized your cash at Otay Mesa, Calexico, or elsewhere, we urge you to call us for a consultation before considering doing it yourself. You probably will not be happy with the outcome if you do, based on their’ aggressive posture in most cases. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Dulles CBP Seize Cash from South Korean Woman

Back in February, when life in the United States was normal and people were still travelling, Dulles seized around $11,000 from a South Korean woman who was arriving in the United States. That story follows:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized . . . unreported currency from a traveler at Washington Dulles International Airport during the weekend.

A South Korean woman, who is a U.S. lawful permanent resident, reported to CBP officers that she possessed $500. Officers explained currency reporting requirements to the woman and she amended her declaration to report that she had $6,000. During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered a total of $11,097 in her baggage. CBP officers seized all the currency and released the woman. She arrived on a flight from Seoul on Sunday.

It is legal to carry large sums of currency into or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country. Read more about currency reporting requirements.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, and potential criminal charges.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP has seized your cash, we urge you to call us for a consultation before considering doing it yourself. You probably will not be happy with the outcome if you do, based on Dulles’ aggresive posture in most cases. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Officer's uniform, featuring the seal of the agency.

Top 10 things to know after a U.S. customs (CBP) money seizure

1. You should expect a CAFRA notice of seizure.

After a customs money seizure, you should expect to receive a CAFRA notice of seizure in the mail. This is different from the custody receipt for seized property you you should’ve received.

2. U.S. Customs is only required to “send” a notice of seizure in 60 days most of the time.

After the U.S. customs seizes money they must send a notice of seizure. In most cases, CBP is not required to confirm it was received, only that it was sent.

3. If CBP sends the notice of seizure and you don’t get it, or its late, your case will suffer.

Someone who has had customs seize cash usually has 30 days from the date on the CAFRA notice of seizure to respond to get money back administratively, or 35 days to take the case to court by filing a CAFRA seized asset claim form. If you do not receive the notice of seizure from Customs, the clock to respond and get your seized cash back from customs is still ticking. Waiting passively for CBP to send the CAFRA notice of seizure will jeopardize your case.

4. You can choose how your case will be handled through an election of proceedings form.

An election of proceedings form is enclosed with the notice of seizure. You must choose an option, sign and return the form as directed to contest your cash seizure case with customs. You should get a free currency seizure consultation before deciding how to proceed to get seized cash back from CBP.

5. Your case will go to court only if you or CBP seeks judicial forfeiture.

Typically the only way you can get your customs money seizure case before a judge is by properly filing a CAFRA seized asset claim form that is signed by you. The detailed instructions for this step are in the notice of seizure and the election of proceedings form.

6. An administrative petition for return of seized cash isn’t an apology letter or explanation.

If you choose to file an administrative petition for returned of seized cash it should not be in the form of an apology letter or explanation to Customs. A notice of seizure is a legal document and requires a legal response. If you admit to a crime or violation there is no way to take it back. If CBP chooses to criminally prosecute you, you will not be able to say you are innocent.

7. You must prove the money was legal.

Whatever election of proceedings option you select, you will have to prove the money seized by CBP was legal and came from a legitimate source. This is most typically done by including supporting documents like affidavits, tax returns, contracts, profit and loss sheets, bank statements, tax returns, business registration certificates, and proofs of employment or income with the administrative petition (if chosen as the option). Be careful not to undershare or overshare with Customs, or accidentally or unknowingly disclose other violations of the law.

Even if you prove the cash seized by CBP was from a legitimate source, you also have to prove that it was going to be used for a legal purpose. This can be a trip itinerary, proof of expenses, medical bills, leases, and other documents.

8. You must be patient; processing times vary by port, sometimes taking a year or more.

If you choose an administrative petition, offer in compromise, or claim, the process can take very long; sometimes a year or more. Doing everything right the first time helps prevent unnecessary delays.

9. Statements made to CBP can be used against you.

It is likely that when you were detained by CBP after the money seizure that you were read your “Miranda rights” and told that you had the right to remain silent. Any statements you made before you were detained and after you were detained and read your rights can be used against you.

10. You may be charged with a crime.

Failure to report cash to customs, structuring cash transactions, and bulk cash smuggling all carry with them civil and criminal penalties. You can be charged either civilly, criminally, or both.

Dulles CBP Seizes $19000 in Smuggled Cash

In what is ominous to me, CBP in Dulles says they “continue to encounter travelers who attempt to smuggle unreported currency out of the United States.” By smuggling, they mean bulk cash smuggling. And at Dulles airport, for sure, bulk cash smuggling (watch our bulk cash smuggling video here) means they will be trying to keep 50% of the seized money as a penalty, even if legitimate source and intended use are proven.

It’s ominous to me because Dulles CBP is just one of the toughest CBP ports around the country to get money back from, and when you can get it back, the penalties can be very high. The ominous quote is from a recent news releases about a couple heading to Morocco with $19,000, who only reported $8,000.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Washington Dulles International Airport continue to encounter travelers who attempt to smuggle unreported currency out of the United States.

It is legal to carry large sums of currency into or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country.

In the latest seizure, a couple destined for Casablanca, Morocco on December 28 acknowledged that they understood federal currency reporting requirements and reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $8,000. CBP currency detector dog Cato alerted to their carry-on baggage and officers discovered additional currency. In total, CBP officers discovered $19,651. Officers seized $19,000 and released $651 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and allowed them to continue their trip.

Has Dulles CBP seized your money?

If Dulles CBP seized your money, we urge you not to try to do it yourself. You will not be happy with the outcome. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Over $500,000 seized by Customs storedi n clear evidence bags

Customs Took $500k Cash at San Juan

There is a lot of cash that passes through the nation’s airports and seaports carried by a lot of people. As we have shown through the years here at this customs cash seizure blog and in our many articles about the procedures for getting back cash taken by Customs, sometimes that money is from illegal and illegitimate sources (i.e., the proceeds of a crime).

In a recent case, Customs in San Juan Puerto Rico confiscated nearly a half million dollars in two separate money seizure incidents. The full story is quoted below, but note these interesting points:

  • $350k was concealed within the rails of 9 suitcases, but the woman only reported carrying $1,600
  • $214k was concealed under the carpet of a cargo van, the male driver reported only carrying $4,000

On to the story:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized over $500K in undeclared currency in two separate incidents at the Port of San Juan and the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport.

On Mar. 30, during luggage inspections authorized by federal law, CBP officers found US currency concealed within the rails of nine suitcases.

Rudi Alfonso Hernandez-Simon, 52, a citizen of the Dominican Republic failed to declare accurately having in his possession a total of $353,372. 

Mr. Hernandez-Simon, who also had a carry-on bag and one (1) backpack, declared to be transporting approximately $1,600.  

On Apr. 1, CBP officers inspecting outbound vehicles to be transported onboard the ferry M/V KYDON, bound to Santo Domingo, selected a Ford E-350 cargo vehicle for further examination.

The driver, a legal permanent resident with citizenship from the Dominican Republic, declared being in possession of $4,000. 

A CBP K-9 discovered thirteen (13) packages of US currency concealed under the carpet, between the driver and passenger seats, totaling $214,037. 

“Travelers can carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP,” indicated Edwin Cruz, San Juan Area Port Director.   “Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency, penalties and/or arrest.”

In each incident, CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws.   U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested Mr. Hernandez-Simon who appeared before the US District Court in San Juan.  HSI will proceed with an investigation for both cases.

Pile of cash totaling more than $600,000 seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection in Brownsville, Teas

Brownsville CBP Seizes $644,285 in Cash

Everything — including CBP cash seizures — are bigger in Texas. Case in point: Last week, CBP officers in Brownsville, Texas, seized more than a half-million in cash from two forty-ish year old U.S. citizens who were heading to Mexico.

The facts in these cases always lead me to believe the currency was being moved as part of the illegal drug trade, and that the men moving the money were likely mules just moving the cash from the sale of drugs made by others, back to the shippers in Mexico. The men picked are likely picked because they do not arouse suspicion, and so CBP should get all the more credit for making a huge seizure such as this.

Here’s the full story (original here) on this mega-cash seizure from Brownsville CBP.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge Port of Entry seized $644,285 in unreported bulk U.S. currency and more than $17,000 in cocaine in separate, unrelated enforcement actions.

“Our CBP officers did an outstanding job in taking down this significant load of bulk currency . . . ” said Port Director Tater Ortiz, Brownsville Port of Entry. “Their vigilance and experience were key factors in their successful interceptions.”

The . . . seizure took place on Wednesday, Sept. 5, when CBP officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 42-year-old male United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas, and a 40-year-old male United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas, and a passenger in the same vehicle who were selected for a routine outbound inspection.  With the aid of a non-intrusive inspection system and canine unit, CBP officers discovered multiple packages of bulk U.S. currency totaling $644,285 hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the currency and narcotics, arrested the travelers and turned them over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Has Brownsville CBP taken your cash?

If Brownsville CBP has taken your cash, 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.

$100 Dollar Bills Slider

ICE arrests reggaeton singer for bulk cash smuggling

No one is exempt from the requirement to report more than $10,000 to CBP upon entering or leaving the United States, and other customs territories (which includes Puerto Rico). Earlier this year, Customs seized $51,802 from a reggaeton singer who goes by the stage name Farruko. Not only was the money seized, but the Farruko was arrested.

Basically, Farruko flew via helicopter from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico with more than $50,000. Upon his arrival in Puerto Rico, he completed the standard customs form on which he denied traveling with more than $10,000. However, CBP searched his bag and found cash, including some hidden in “the soles of his shoes.”

Presumably, the money was seized the same day (though the story does not so state); the next day, HSI agents obtained an arrest warrant and also arrested the singer for, presumably, bulk cash smuggling and failure to file a currency report.

The full story, originally HERE, is as follows:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A reggaeton singer was arrested Tuesday in Bayamon for failure to declare transportation of monetary instruments more than $10,000 and for bulk cash smuggling into the United States. The arrest is the result of a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

On April 2, Carlos Efrén Reyes-Rosado, aka Farruko, 27, traveled by helicopter from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. When Reyes-Rosado filled out the CBP 6059B customs declaration form, he indicated that he was not carrying more than $10,000.

HSI special agents initially detained him at the Isla Grande airport in San Juan after a search of his bags revealed that he was carrying approximately $51,802 in U.S. currency in his luggage and in the soles of his shoes in his bags.

On April 3, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin authorized a criminal complaint and issued an arrest warrant against Reyes-Rosado. HSI special agents arrested him the same day.

Reyes-Rosado had his preliminary hearing before McGiverin Wednesday.

[ . . . ]

Assistant U.S. Attorney María L. Montañez oversees the prosecution of the case. If convicted, the defendant faces a fine of no more than $250,000; five years in prison, or both; and forfeiture of the property involved in the offense.

Have you had bulk cash seized?

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 CBP seized bulk 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.

A September 7 2018 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Detroit Metropolital airport.

Detroit Airport Cash Forfeiture Notices: September 7 2018

Last Friday, Customs published a notice for cash that was seized at Detroit airport only 3 days earlier, on September 4. We, at Great Lakes Customs Law, monitor these notices on a weekly basis because, inevitably, we need them to help our clients who have been forced to abandon cash.

This notice seems highly unusual, as it usually takes several days for information to get from the CBP officers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport to the administrative and enforcement wing of CBP — Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures (FP&F) office — at the McNamara Federal Building. Even after it is delivered to FP&F, I strongly suspect that it takes a few days to overcome bureacratic inertia and get it over to the people at forfeiture.gov (which, I believe, is run by the DOJ).

Here’s the text of the relevant notice:

DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: November 06, 2018


2018380700135201-0001-0000, Seized on 09/04/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 527; PC; Valued at $48,777.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(B)

It is very curious to me that this seizure and the publication of the intent to forfeit was “fast-tracked” in a matter of only 3 days between seizure and publication. UPDATE: I’ve since corresponded with the individual whose money was seized in this case and have confirmed they were coerced into abandoning the cash to avoid jail, and delay.

Is Detroit CBP forfeiting your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized and is forfeiting your cash, you have rights to get your cash back. 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.
$100 bills laid out on table seized by Customs

CBP Seizes $879K Smuggled by Plane

Customs officers in San Antonio, Texas, seized a very significant amount of cash – $879,000. Typically, we only read about such large amounts of cash being seized by CBP from vehicles, as one can easily imagine is part of the illegal drug trade.

But this time, the money was leaving the country on a private plan. The individuals involved were arrested for bulk cash smuggling. Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the San Antonio International Airport intercepted a pair of travelers allegedly smuggling currency out of the U.S. July 15.

The travelers were carrying $879,695 packed in boxes and duct taped closed and were en route to Mexico via private aircraft when they were apprehended.

Two CBP officers arrived to San Antonio’s Fixed Base Operation to conduct an outbound inspection on a private aircraft when they noticed the aircraft was on the runway preparing for departure.  The officers informed the Federal Aviation Administration tower that the aircraft had not been cleared for departure and to direct the plane to the CBP General Aviation Facility.

When the aircraft arrived, the officers began their inspection, which included asking the passengers for an oral declaration of any currency or monetary instruments they were carrying.  Each passenger provided a negative oral declaration followed by a negative written declaration on CBP Form 6051B.

An inspection of the aircraft revealed taped boxes with stacks of currency concealed inside.  CBP officers arrested two Mexican nationals for allegedly intending to evade the currency reporting requirements by knowingly concealing more than $10,000 in currency or other monetary instruments and attempting to transport the currency from within the U.S. to a place outside of the U.S.

[. . . ]

“One of the reasons CBP performs outbound inspections is to protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or currency that funds transnational criminal organizations,” said Houston’s CBP Acting Director of Field Operations Beverly Good. “This significant currency seizure is a direct reflection of our continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting requirements.”

This is among the largest single seizure of unreported currency in the Houston Field Office region which includes San Antonio, Dallas, Austin and Houston.  The two men were arrested and turned over to Homeland Security Investigations.

On a typical day in 2017, CBP officers around the country seized $265,205 in undeclared or illicit currency.

Has CBP San Antonio Seized Your Cash?

If CBP seized your cash at San Antonio International Airport, you should give us a call for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of our free customs cash seizure legal guide.

An image of a traveler's with $10,000 sewn into his pants which was seized by uscbU.S. Customs & Border Protection

Boston Logan Airport Cash Seizure Video

A few weeks back, NECN (an NBC affiliate) published an article and took some video footage at Boston Logan Airport about customs cash seizures at the airport, and by extension, through the country as a whole. The story was apparently initiated after news about there being over $2 million dollars in 2017 seized all across ports in New England.

I think it is probably also some public relations clean-up after maybe a little bad press after the story broke about the Nigerian woman who had her currency unlawfully withheld at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.

I encourage all my many readers to click this link and watch the video, which follows a uniformed CBP officer through Boston Logan International Airport as he intercepts, questions travelers, and counts money. The CBP officer shares some interesting information and insights on the whole cash seizure process, including considerations they undertake when deciding whether to seize someone’s cash.