Tag: customs lawyer

$29,000 worth of cash displayed by CBP after seizure at Dulles airport

Dulles CBP Seize $29K in Cash from Congolese Man

CBP seizes about $342,000 each day, on average, at airports across the country and at our borders. In this story, CBP seized about $29,000 from a Congolese man who was arriving the United States. He was not criminally charged and although the story contains a cautionary tale at the ending about bulk cash smuggling, it does not say he was actually bulk cash smuggling.

Here’s the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $29,900 in unreported currency from a man who arrived on a flight from Ethiopia at Washington Dulles International Airport on Tuesday.

CBP officers interviewed the Congolese national traveler and explained the U.S. currency reporting law to him. The traveler declared both verbally and in writing that he possessed $10,000. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered a total of $29,900 in the man’s possession.

CBP officers seized the currency for violating U.S. currency reporting laws, then released the man. CBP is not releasing the traveler’s name because he was not criminally charged.

“The consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, or potential criminal charges,” said Daniel Escobedo, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington, D.C. “Customs and Border Protection strongly encourages all travelers to be well informed of their role in CBP’s international arrivals inspection process at CBP’s Travel website.”

CBP officers have observed that smuggled bulk currency may be the proceeds of illicit activity, such as proceeds from the sales of dangerous drugs or revenue from financial crimes, and officers work hard to disrupt transnational criminal organizations by intercepting their currency smuggling attempts at our nation’s borders.

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’ 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.

Coming Reforms to CBP Regulations

A few weeks back, the Commercial Customs Operations
Advisory Committee (COAC), met in Washington DC. COAC is a 20-person committee that was established by Congress, and it “provides advice and recommendations to CBP and the Department of the Treasury on the commercial operations of CBP and trade-related interdepartmental functions.”

The press release for the event gives us some insight into the ongoing work to reduce and simplify the regulations used by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. The end-result could be 35% reduction to the text of the regulations:

Updating the regulations was a collaborative effort. “We had subject matter experts go section by section through the regulations and identify the pain points, the problems, the language, whatever the difficulty was,” said James Swanson, director of cargo, security and control in CBP’s Office of Field Operations. “This was a big effort. But it was important to industry and quite frankly, it was important to me. It makes it easier to enforce and easier to identify what the regulations are. We expect to reduce the overall size and text of the regulations by about 35 percent,” he said.

They also issued a regulatory reform issue paper, that goes into a little more detail on non-public regulation reforms:

  • Revenue modernization
  • Modernizing the vessel arrival process to be automated and streamlined
  • Updating the regulations to account for eBond functionality in ACE
  • Free Trade Zone modernization (also a COAC working group)
  • Advance Electronic Data for international mail
  • Export manifest modernization
  • Changes to the in-bond process (also a COAC working group)
  • Bonded warehouse modernization
  • Liquidation process modernization
  • Updating regulations for ACE functionality

ACE is among the most exciting things to happen with CBP for a customs practitioner in a long time; it streamlines (i.e., makes paperless) the protest filing process. That, coupled with the online publication of the bulletin notices of liquidation, makes life much easier and much more efficient for us customs lawyers.

Updating the regulations for ACE functionality and liquidation modernization should prove to be the most enticing changes to the regulations for practitioners.

$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.

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:



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.