Tag: customs lawyer

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.

The CBP global entry line at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Detroit Metro Airport CBP Seize $59,451 Cash

Finally, a CBP cash seizure press release from my own home port of Detroit that happened at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is just a few miles down the road from our office. This one involves a U.S. citizen returning from China with his wife; together, the couple was found to be transporting more than $10,000 cash through Customs…. about $50,000 more, actually.

Here’s the full story from Detroit CBP:

DETROITOn November 28, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $59,451 in U.S. currency from a United States citizen after he failed to report the currency to CBP officers. The traveler is a member of the Global Entry trusted traveler program.

The male traveler and his wife arrived in Detroit on a flight from Beijing, China. He initially denied carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. currency or its equivalent in foreign currency. CBP Officers questioned the traveler as he and his wife attempted to exit the federal inspection area separately 13 minutes apart. Further inspection led to the discovery of $59,451 divided between the two.

“You must report to CBP that you are carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency or other monetary instruments when you travel into or out of the United States, especially if you are a member of Global Entry.” said Devin Chamberlain, CBP Detroit (Airport) Port Director. “There is no limit as to how much currency travelers can import or export. However, the law requires travelers to report when they carry at least $10,000 in monetary instruments.  Violators may face criminal prosecution and forfeiture of the undisclosed funds.”

As you can see, this story involves both a failure to report cash to customs and unlawful cash structuring. As we’ve explained time and time again at this customs law blog, cash will be seized by Detroit CBP if it is divided between a husband and wife (or other family members) traveling together and CBP has cause to believe it was done for the purpose of avoiding filing the currency report on form FinCen 105.

Had cash seized at Detroit Metro Airport by CBP?

If you’re like the people in this story and have suffered a cash seizure by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at Detroit Metro Airport, you’re in need of a lawyer to help you get your money back and potentially avoid criminal prosecution or inquiry. Every case is different and nuances, exceptions and interpretations are almost always present making each case unique and challenging. Many people need help even understanding the election of proceedings form that is included with the notice of seizure.

Please make use of our customs currency seizure legal guide, but remember to also take advantage of our free currency seizure consultation by contacting us today by clicking on the contact button!

CBP proposes electronic notice of liquidation

A few years ago, U.S. Customs & Border Protection began posting notice of property seizures and their intent to forfeit the property on forfeiture.gov. Previously, CBP posted those notices at the customhouse and in newspaper publications.

Physical Posting of Bulletin Notices of Liquidation

Similarly, anytime an entry was liquidated CBP had to post the bulletin notices of liquidation in paper format at the port office, historically called the customhouse.  Liquidation is the legal event which finalizes the amount of duties owed to CBP. To protest an entry (that is, officially challenge customs rate, duty, value, etc.), a protest must be filed within 180 days of liquidation. Thus, for an importer or their customs lawyer, knowing the exact date of liquidation is extremely important.

In addition to posting the bulletin notices of liquidation at the customhouse, CBP would provide courtesy notices of liquidation or notices of suspension or extension of liquidation, by mail.

Proposed rules mark an end of physical posting of bulletin notices of liquidation

CBP is updating this antiquated method of providing official notice of the liquidation of an entry. It will instead be posting those notices to their website, www.cbp.gov, in searchable format. This will be a tremendous benefit to importers, and their customs attorneys, who typically had to physically go to the port office and inspect, or in most cases – request to inspect, pages of information to locate a single entry and its date of liquidation, if they need to know the date of liquidation for protesting an entry.

CBP is taking this action by proposing to update it’s regulations, with comments due by November 14, 2016. You can read all about this proposed rulemaking by reading the entry in the Federal Register.

This is a change that this customs lawyer welcomes, with open arms.

A picture of CBP canine who discovered unreported cash that was seized by CBP at Dulles Airport in front of the table of cash emblazoned with CBP logo.

Dog Detects Federal Currency Reporting Violations at Dulles Airport

U.S. Customs & Border Protection uses canines to assist its law enforcement functions. When most people think of police dogs, they think of their use in detecting drugs; but they can also be used to find the presence of unreported cash.

And that is the subject of a recent story from CBP in Dulles airport when they seized nearly $75,000 from two men bound for Serbia (also apparently involved in unlawful cash structuring).

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized a total of $73,900 from two Serbia-bound travelers for violating federal currency reporting requirements on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Neither man was criminally charged. CBP officers released the travelers to continue their journey.

CBP officers initially stopped the first man in the jetway to the airplane and asked how much currency he possessed.  The man reported $1,500 verbally and in writing.  CBP officers inspected his carry-on baggage and jacket and discovered four envelopes that contained approximately $50,000.

Meanwhile, CBP’s currency detector dog “Nicky” alerted to another passenger, who then claimed to be the first subject’s son-in-law.  The second man reported that he possessed $7,000, but a subsequent inspection discovered two envelopes in his jacket that contained approximately $20,000.

CBP officers verified that the currency totaled $73,900 in U.S. dollars between the two family members.

In this case, the violations of the federal currency reporting laws did not lead to criminal charges, but theoretically they could be charged within 5 years due to the statute of limitations period. But as always, federal currency reporting laws mean that, even when not criminally charged, asset forfeiture of the cash by customs will still occur. In this case, CBP seized almost all of the money. To get it back, these men will have to show that the money has no nexus to illegal activity and, even if they can do that, they will still likely face a loss of at least 50% of the money; CBP’s guidelines for structuring and bulk cash smuggling are far more stringent than their guidelines for a failure to report.

The Loudon Times-Mirror reported on the same story, and added that the dog, Nicky, is a Malinois dog, and that CBP returned $1,500 to the men and released them to continue their trip, which is generally called a “humanitarian release” by CBP.

Have you violated the federal currency reporting regulations?

If you violated the federal currency reporting regulations, 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.

Another Detroit CBP cash seizure abandoned

Earlier on July 2, CBP Detroit posted a notice of intent to forfeit $20,728 that was seized at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (port code 3807) on June 20, 2016, for a simple failure to report more than $10,000 being brought into the country or out of the country, as required by currency reporting laws.

The fact that publication has already begun for this recent seizure is probably unfortunate. It means that someone has chosen to abandon their money or has never received a personal notice of seizure letter from CBP. After the seizure notice letter is mailed, CBP can begin administrative forfeiture proceedings after 35 days have passed.

Someone with an interest in the property can file a claim based on the publication of the notice of intent to forfeit; however, if the person received a personal notice of seizure letter, legally speaking, the deadline for filing a claim will have already passed. Don’t let that fact discourage you from contacting our office, because sometimes there are ways around this bar to filing a claim.

Here’s the notice:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: July 02, 2016
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: August 01, 2016
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: August 31, 2016

DETROIT, MI

2016380700088501-001-0000, Seized on 06/20/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED;220; EA; Valued at $20,728.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

I’ve seen some lawyers out there say never to bother filing an administrative petition cash seized by a federal agency; to always file a claim.

We have always had tremendous success in negotiating return of the money through the filing of administrative petitions for our clients who have had their money seized by CBP, especially in Detroit. So do not be fooled my lawyers who try to pressure you into filing a claim so they can charge you higher legal fees by filing a claim.

If you got currency seized by CBP 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 CBP notice of seizure letter contains bad legal advice from CBP; 30 days from date of mailing, not date of the letter.

Don’t Take Legal Advice From CBP

In our piece of responding to a customs money seizure and a petition for return of seized cash, we warn anyone who has had cash seized by Customs against trusting customs that, in a few simple steps, they will get their money back. Do not trust the purported requirements in the notice of seizure like explaining why you “broke the law” (admitting a crime = bad idea) or “unquestionably proving” the source and use of the money, or that bank statements and tax returns are always necessary. Do not take legal advice from CBP.  You need legal advice from a customs lawyer.

Recently, I read a court opinion by a (wise) judge who complained about bad legal advice from CBP. In all the 50 states, only lawyers can give legal advice. If a lawyer happens to work for CBP, they could not give advice to someone who has had cash or property seized because they would have a conflict of interest and could not be expected to give candid advice. This judge, in United States v. Martin, 460 F. Supp. 2d 669, 674 (D. Md. 2006), said:

It is . . . unfortunate that, though sent by non-lawyers to people who could not in any case be their legal clients, [CBP] purport[s] to give legal advice [by stating in the notice of seizure letter “Your legal options are as follows.”[]].

It is illegal to practice law without a license. So when someone at CBP tells you what to do to protect your legal rights, it’s probably illegal. That’s why I bristle when I read CBP’s notice of seizure because it is often inaccurate and contradictory. Worse still are decision letters that ignore or mis-state the petitioner’s right to file a supplemental petition. This puts anyone in jeopardy when trying to respond to the complex and contradictory instructions in a notice of seizure.

Another of those bad pieces of legal advice from CBP is that, if you choose to file an administrative petition under 19 CFR 171.2, it must be filed within 30 days of the date of the notice of seizure letter. This is potentially misleading. In fact, 171.2(b)(1) says “Petitions for relief from seizures must be filed within 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice of seizure.

In saying this, the notice of seizure letter presumes that the date on the letter is the date it is being mailed. That is sometimes true. It is also sometimes not true. Certainly, there is probably a rebuttable presumption that the date on the letter is the same date as the date of mailing. Atteberry v. United States, 27 CIT 751; 267 F Supp 2d 1364 (2003). But, the post mark on the letter might bear evidence that the date of mailing is other than on the date of the letter.

The best practice is not to fight about it, and submit a petition within 30 days of the date of the letter or obtain an extension. But if 30 days has already passed and CBP is telling you they will not accept the petition, you should hope you saved the mailing envelope and it is post-marked after the date of the notice of seizure letter.  And that CBP will act reasonably when presented with that information.

I once received a letter from CBP that provided 30 days to respond. It was dated April 6, ‘post-marked’ on April 15 (from a private meter), and received on April 29. 14 days is a long time for a piece of first class mail to be delivered, and so I suspect from April 15 to April 26 it was sitting on someone’s desk, until that person finally put it in the mailbox for pickup.

Did you take bad legal advice from CBP?

If you “missed” an incorrect deadline or have been asked to admit a violation to CBP,  please contact us by clicking the “Call Now” button at the top or right side, or fill out the contact form for a callback.
Champlain, NY, border crossing with large stop sign where Customs and Border Protection seized money inspecting a vehicle.

Customs and Border Protection Seized Money in Champlain

Annually, ports across the country release news stories about the previous twelve months of enforcement activity. In Champlain, New York, U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized money on 3 different occasions that made it into their “Top 10 Seizures and Arrests for 2015.”

Customs and Border Protection seized money in these three cases but we only previously reported on the $24,000 seized on an Amtrak train.

CHAMPLAIN, N.Y. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations has compiled its top 10 seizures and arrests for 2015 at the Area Port of Champlain.  The list of seizures underscores the important role CBP officers play in protecting the country.

The following seizures represent the array of threats encountered at the Area Port of Champlain in both the commercial and passenger environments.  They further portray the efforts of CBP employees to prevent the import of illegal items and protect the commerce of the U.S.

  1. January 4, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $24,671

CBP officers inspecting passengers onboard the Amtrak train at Rouses Point, N.Y., encountered a female U.S. citizen who stated she was coming back from Cuba.  The subject had marked “no” to question 13 on Form 6059B (Customs Declaration) that she had filled out and signed, thus declaring that she was not in possession of over $10,000 U.S. dollars or its equivalent.  The subject was sent for a secondary examination to verify she had no prohibited Cuban goods in her possession.  During examination, it was discovered that she was travelling with $24,671 in unreported currency hidden in her luggage.

The other two stories, quoted below, apparently never made it into the headlines at the time Customs and Border Protection seized money. They are interesting in that the first story involves bulk cash smuggling by a 75 year old lady, and the second involves fraud in that the money was derived from cash advances taken out against credit cards without the intention of repayment. In both cases, Customs and Border Protection seized money.
  1. April 20, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $122,687

CBP officers at the Port of Champlain referred a 75-year-old Canadian female for secondary inspection to verify the answers she gave during primary inspection to basic questions.  During the secondary inspection, a search resulted in the discovery of unreported currency totaling $122,686 U.S. dollars and its equivalent hidden in luggage.  The currency was seized.

  1. June 1, 2015 – CURRENCY SEIZURE OF $38,220

CBP Officers at the Port of Champlain referred two Canadian-born sisters, who each declared $10,000 dollars in Canadian Currency, for a secondary inspection.  During the secondary inspection, it was discovered that they were structuring money for a third individual, who was also applying for admission to the U.S., to avoid reporting requirements.  Further examination revealed that the money had been obtained by taking out cash advances from credit cards with no intention of repayment.  In total, $38,220 dollars in Canadian currency was seized.

Has Customs and Border Protection seized money from you?

If Customs and Border Protection seized money from you, you can learn more from our trusted legal guide to a customs money seizure and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

$830K Seized for Bulk Cash Smuggling

When is a 2010 Dodge Journey worth almost a million dollars? When there is $830,000 dollars hidden in the dashboard.

CBP has broad search authority. In fact, not only do they have largely unfettered discretion to search at the border (not only land borders but airports), but they also have broad search authority at the “functional equivalent” of the border. The current state of the law in this area means that, among other things, CBP may pull over cars within 100 miles of the border and question those inside if they have reasonable suspicion of unlawful activity. If you want to learn more, read this nice summary of the law.

This 100-mile border search authority is the context for the following news release:

TEMECULA, Calif.—U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested a man Tuesday who had hidden large quantities of cash behind his SUV’s dashboard.

The incident occurred at approximately 2 p.m. when agents patrolling Interstate 15 stopped a 2010 Dodge Journey. The 54-year old Mexican national driver was unable to answer routine questions consistently.

A K-9 sniff of the man’s vehicle resulted in a positive alert, agents then brought the vehicle to the I-15 checkpoint to conduct a more thorough search. At the checkpoint, agents put the vehicle on a lift and discovered a hidden compartment behind the dashboard. The compartment contained 61 bundles of cash.

In total, the bundles contained $830,060 in U.S. currency. The man was arrested and charged with bulk cash smuggling.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999. 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. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case

Tuition Money Seized by Customs

Customs seizure of tuition money is a common occurrence in the weeks prior to the start of either semester of the school year. Like all customs currency seizures, the seizure typically happens because of a failure to file a currency report by people transporting money into the United States of amounts over $10,000.

Lots of foreign students come to the United States and pay their tuition in cash as most colleges won’t accept tuition payments by credit card. Likewise, many foreign exchange students and children of immigrants get a lot of cash assistance from family overseas who understand their duty to pay for their children’s education; it may be a lump $15,000 sum from a parent or grandparent, or a few hundred or thousand dollars from several different relatives or benefactors.

Customs can easily identify someone on student visa, who is relatively young, and is arriving from China, India or Korea; we previously wrote about how customs can “target” currency reporting enforcement based on just these types of criteria. This makes it very easy for them to target students who will then be required to give an accurate report of currency down to the dollar, and if they don’t to seize their cash. The only thing higher than the cost of education is the cost of not accurately reporting money over $10,000 to customs.

What to do when Customs seizes your tuition money?

Traveling with cash? Claim monetary instruments exceeding $10,000 USD!
Don’t let customs seize cash. Traveling with cash? Claim monetary instruments exceeding $10,000 USD!

Take the advice we have already given for responding to a customs money seizure by reading our popular article on the topic: Responding to a Customs Currency Seizure. Currency seizure cases are handled the same whether the money that was seized by customs was intended to be used to pay for college tuition or, for example, for travel expenses. As long as the use of the money is legitimate (and tuition is a legitimate use) and the source of the money is legitimate, with the right legal help you have a good chance of getting your seized tuition money back. If you want to know what a petition to get seized money back from customs looks like, read our article here.

Will I get the money in time to pay my tuition?

It really depends on a variety of circumstances, as we talked about in our popular article on the topic: How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure? In every case, hiring the right attorney to handle your case can speed up the process, from getting the notice of seizure issued, to gathering evidence (obtaining supporting documents, preparing affidavits and giving customs everything they need without waiting for them to request additional documents), researching and drafting the legal basis for the obtaining a return of the seized currency in the petition, and ultimately, if successful, getting the money returned without delay, often by direct deposit. We work hard at Great Lakes Customs Law to get your seized currency returned back to you in a timely manner by doing the job right the first time.

How can I find out more or hire a law firm to help with my customs currency seizure?

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or 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 Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?

CBP Makes Whopping $478k Cash Seizure

In another classic “bulk cash smuggling” offense, CBP officers in at the southern border seized nearly $500,000 in secreted away in a pick-up truck driven by a U.S. citizen from Texas. The incident resulted an arrest. Although you wouldn’t know it from the news release, this is more than just a “failure to report” or “failure to declare” currency. This is bulk cash smuggling. Bulk cash smuggling makes it much more likely that you will NOT get the money back even if you can show that there was a legitimate source and intended use.

The story follows (original HERE):

“This is one of the larger seizures of undeclared currency we have seen in recent memory and is reflective of a robust enforcement posture and an effective application of the skill and training of our frontline officers,” said Port Director Joseph Misenhelter, Laredo Port of Entry.

The seizure occured on July 27 at Lincoln-Juarez Bridge when CBP officers and agents conducting outbound examinations referred a 2010 06102015%20TFO%20DOU%20Cash%203[1]Dodge Ram pickup truck driven by a 43-year-old male U.S. citizen from Laredo, Texas for a secondary examination. During the examination, CBP officers discovered bundles containing $481,711 in undeclared currency hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the currency, arrested the driver and turned him over to Homeland Security Investigations 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 $10,000 or higher they must formally report the currency to CBP. 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.

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next then use the information available on this website and 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. Please read these other articles:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Structuring currency imports and exports
  4. Is it $10,000 per person?  Under what circumstances is filing a report with Customs for transporting more than $10,000 required?
  5. Criminal & civil penalties for failing to report monetary instrument transportation
  6. Is only cash currency subject to seizure by Customs?
  7. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case