Tag: customs money seizure

$28k laid out on a white table at Dulles airport CBP

Dulles Cash Seizure: $28k to Ghana

Last week or so, CBP at Dulles reported on some recent seizure activity for enforcing the currency reporting requirement for travelers heading to Ghana with  more than $10,000. In this case, the money was discovered when a dog smelled the money in a woman’s carry-on bag. Upon inspection and questioning, the officers found out she structured the money by giving it 5 other people (also traveling to Ghana) on the flight.

Here’s the full story here. 

STERLING, Virginia — On consecutive days, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currency detector dog alert resulted in the seizure Thursday of unreported currency from Ghana-bound travelers at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The currency K9 alerted to one passenger’s carry-on bag. She reported to CBP officers that she possessed $8,000. Officers discovered $11,500 in her carry-on.

The woman then admitted to traveling with four additional passengers. She allegedly reported that her travel companions were carrying currency for her, which is known as structuring, to avoid exceeding the $10,000 reporting threshold. Structuring is a serious allegation that may result in federal prosecution. However, no charges have been filed at this time.

CBP officers had the four additional travelers and their baggage pulled from the flight for further inspection. Officers discovered an additional $16,354 of the first woman’s currency among three of her four travel companions. Officers seized a total of $27,854 and provided the woman $154 as humanitarian relief. Officers released all five travelers.

All five travelers were born in Ghana. Three are naturalized U.S. citizens, one is a U.S. lawful permanent resident of Ghana citizenship, and one is a Ghana citizen.

It is perfectly legal to carry large sums of currency in 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.

“Structuring currency to deliberately circumvent U.S. law is a serious violation that brings with it potentially severe consequences to the violator, but it does happen and so Customs and Border Protection officers remain vigilant to intercept these currency structuring efforts,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore. “CBP remains committed to enforcing all of our nation’s laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

 

Currency bundles wrapped in black tape were hidden within the tailgate of the truck. The cash was seized by CBP.

Customs Confiscates $170k Cash from Truck Tailgate

In Texas recently, the CBP seized a lot of cash that was hidden inside the tailgate of a pick-up truck that was being driven into Mexico.

That last line of the story is ever-present in cash seizure news releases, but gives the wrong impression. What do you supposed would happen if the driver reported the money in this case?

“Excuse me, officer, I would like a FinCen 105 because I have to report some money; I’ve got $170,000 stored in my tailgate.”

If you’ve got $170,000 stored in your tailgate, surely you’re up to no good. And even if you report the money as required by 31 USC 5316, the officers are probably still going to seize the money for other alleged criminal activity, like money laundering, drug trafficking, etc.

Here’s the text of the story, enjoy!

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $170,030 Saturday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the tailgate of a pick-up truck.

CBP officers were conducting an outbound operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 12:50 p.m. a 2018 Nissan Titan pick-up driven by a 48-year-old U.S. citizen, accompanied by a 23-year-old Mexican citizen passenger approached the inspection area. Further inspection of the vehicle revealed currency bundles wrapped in black tape hidden within the tailgate of the truck.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver and passenger to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

“CBP officers are working hard to stop the illegal movement of guns, ammunition and unreported currency,” said Michael Neipert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Presidio port director. “Travelers who do not follow federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency and may potentially face criminal charges.”

A September 28 2018 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash seized at Detroit Metro airport.

Detroit Metro Airport Customs Money Seizure; September 28 2018

Today Customs published a notice of all property seized by Customs that is currently pending administrative forfeiture proceedings, as they do each week on forfeiture.gov.  Some weeks, the forfeiture notices for Detroit Metro Airport are uninteresting; some weeks they are interesting, but don’t involve cash.

But this week, the notice is not necessarily as interesting as last week’s 3-days-to-forfeiture post last week, but it is nevertheless loaded with 4 separate cash seizures with a total value of $90,138.36. In fact, it only has cash seizures. Have a look:

PUBLICATION/POSTING START: September 28, 12018
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: October 28, 2018
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: November 27, 2018

DETROIT

2018380700090101-0001-0000, Seized on 04/30/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 202; EA; Valued at $15,127.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316

2018380700090101-0002-0000, Seized on 04/30/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; EURO RETAINED; 7; EA; Valued at $263.36; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316

2018380700118001-0001-0000, Seized on 07/14/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 395; EA; Valued at $34,042.00; For violation of 31 USC 5332(c), 31 USC 5332(a), 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(A)

2018380700121501-0001-0000, Seized on 07/23/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; US Currency Retained; 193; EA; Valued at $19,300.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(A)

2018380700125701-0001-0000, Seized on 08/07/2018; At the port of DETROIT AIRPORT; U.S. Currency Retained; 235; EA; Valued at $21,406.00; For violation of 31 USC 5317(c)(2), 31 USC 5316(a)(1)(B)

All these cases are from seizures that occurred between April and August, 2018. That probably means that someone has tried, and failed, to get the money back by filing an administrative petition. Some people (some of them lawyers), think it’s very easy to get seized cash back from Customs at Detroit Metro airport.

And it can be, if you know what you’re doing. But if you’ve had cash seized by Customs, I can gaurantee you that you don’t know what you’re doing. A customs cash seizure is totally avoidable. So if you’ve had it ceased, you really should not try to help yourself.

Have you had a customs money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport?

If you have a customs money seizure at Detroit Metro airport, don’t do it yourself. Cash seizure cases are often packed with with difficulties and unforeseen challenges. Instead of risking forfeiture and the total loss of your money, do the smart thing and call us for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of the free customs money seizure legal guide we publish on this website.

Piles of cash sit atop evidence bags after seizure by U.S. Customs in Brownsville, Texas

Customs Seizes $46,536 in Bulk Cash at B&M Bridge

Earlier this year, CBP officers in Brownsville, Texas, seized a lot of money from a a pedestrian who was leaving the United States for Mexico, although the man was a Mexican national. Cash seizures by Customs officials at the land border between the United States in Mexico in such a large a mount are usually connected with the illegal drug trade.

That’s just one reason why traveling with $46,000, by foot to Mexico, is more suspicious than flying with $46,000 from Hong Kong to Las Vegas for a trip.

The Customs officers who seized the cash search him, and discovered “multiple packages” of bulk cash that totaled more than $46,000. The cash was seized, and the man was arrested (hint: bulk cash smuggling is a crime). Traveling with money out of the country is not illegal, but traveling with more than $10,000 out of the country and not reporting it to CBP is illegal, and will very likely result in seizure of the money.

The full story follows:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge Port of Entry this weekend seized $46,536 in bulk, unreported U.S. currency.

“Our officer’s constant vigilance and experience made this currency seizure possible,” said Port Director Tater Ortiz, Brownsville Port of Entry.

The seizure took place on Sunday, Mar. 18, when CBP officers working at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 22-year-old male Mexican citizen from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, who was selected for a routine outbound inspection. CBP officers conducted a visual and physical search of the bags the traveler was carrying which resulted in the discovery of multiple packages of bulk U.S. currency totaling $46,536 hidden within the bags.

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

Have you had bulk cash 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 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 stacked pile of cash seized by Customs at Dulles airport

Customs at Dulles Seized $124k Cash in 3 Incidents

Dulles continues to lead the nation in news releases about money seized by Customs officers at their airport for violations of the cash reporting requirement, structuring laws, or bulk cash smuggling laws. In this story, CBP seized nearly $125,000 from three different groups of travelers. The majority of the money — $83,093 — was seized from a man heading to Ghana.

A backup full of $100 bills seized by Customs officers for failing to report cash at Dulles airport.
CBP officers seized $124,694 during three currency reporting violations at Washington Dulles International Airport March 7-8, 2018.

The remaining two seizures were from a couple arriving from Columbia, and a man heading to Pakistan, both of which were approximately $20,000. Here is the story from CBP:

STERLING, Va., — U.S. federal law is clear in regards to international travelers reporting to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers all currency and other monetary instruments they possess during a CBP arrival or departure inspection.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  None of the currency or monetary instruments is taxed.  For travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or monetary instruments, they just take a few minutes to complete a U.S. Treasury Department financial form and continue on their journey.

Yet, travelers continue to violate this federal reporting requirement, include three groups of travelers who recently ceded a combined $124,694 in unreported currency to CBP officers at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency laws are severe: from loss of all unreported currency to potential criminal charges, as illustrated by the following three cases:

  • CBP officers seized $83,093 from a Ghanaian man destined to Ghana February 8;
  • CBP officers seized $23,082 from a Brazilian couple who arrived from Colombia February 8; and
  • CBP officers seized $18,519 from a U.S. citizen of Pakistan birth destined to Pakistan February 7.

Travelers escaped criminal charges in all three cases.

“Customs and Border Protection urges travelers to be completely honest during CBP inspections, and in particular, comply with a federal currency reporting regulation that is quite clear and simple,” said Daniel Mattina, CBP Area Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles.  “The best way for travelers to hold onto their currency is to fully comply with our nation’s currency reporting laws.”

In each case, CBP officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency, and discovered additional currency during baggage examinations.

CBP officers returned currency in the amount of $93, $234 and $519, respectively, to the travelers for humanitarian purposes, and released the travelers.

Has Dulles CBP seized your cash?

If Dulles CBP seized your cash, beware that you stand to lose a lot of it because of their aggressive penalization of bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses. You should 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.

Bulk cash hidden in the vehicle panels seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes Money Going into Mexico

20 stacks of new U.S. currency seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for smuggling and failure to report cash to customs
CBP in Lukeville Arizona seized $38,000 of concealed currency heading into Mexico.

Here’s a quick story about a money seizure that happened when someone was going into Mexico earlier this week.CBP seized almost $40k in cash that was hidden in the interior panel of a van in Lukeville, Arizona. The driver was a 31 year old Mexican man. Here’s the brief story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested a 31-year-old Mexican man Saturday after finding $38,000 of unreported U.S. currency concealed in a quarter panel of his Ford van.

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

Every once in a while a seizure like this is not connected to the drug trade. I’ve represented people who’ve had cash seized crossing the border with Mexico who hid it in the vehicle just to keep it safe. In a case like this, even if the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use the person involved is still responsible for a bulk cash smuggling violation. The consequences of that include forfeiture (permanent loss) of all the money, fines, and jail time. The best case scenario would be no criminal charges, and a return of most of the money.

Have you had money seized going into Mexico?

If you had money seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection going into Mexico 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.

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

CBP Seizes $38k Bulk Cash in Texas

I’ve not had much time for blogging about customs law, as CBP enforcement seems to have increased lately. But, I did see this story come up about a seizure of money in…. suprise: Texas! Not Dulles this time.

The money seizure occurred at the Del Rio International Bridge. Just three days ago, Customs officers stopped and searched a Mexican woman driving her vehicles out of the United States. During the course of the inspection, CBP found that she had “several bundles of cash in her possession” that totaled $37,901.

Although the story does not explain how, or if, the money was hidden, it does say that she will be prosecuted for bulk cash smuggling. It’s odd that, most of the time these seizure stories form CBP in Texas explain how they money was hidden but only calls those violations a failure to report; in this case, it is not explained how the money was hidden, but is called bulk cash smuggling. It’s becoming my pet peeve.

On to the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Del Rio International Bridge recently seized more than $30,000 in U.S. currency from a woman leaving the United States bound for Mexico.

On Dec. 19, CBP officers, conducting outbound inspections at the Del Rio Port of Entry, encountered a 2010 SUV departing the United States for Mexico. During inspection, officers discovered the woman driving the SUV had several bundles of cash in her possession. Officers seized $37,901 in undeclared U.S. currency.The driver, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Mexico, was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for federal prosecution for bulk cash smuggling – 31 USC § 5332.

“Seizing undeclared currency at ports of entry serves to deprive criminal organizations of their profits,” said Port Director Alberto D. Perez, Del Rio Port of Entry. “Large amounts of currency may be imported and exported with the proper documentation.

“Failure to report international transit of $10,000 or more could mean forfeiture of funds and criminal sanctions.”

U.S. CBP seized cash hidden in a shipping container at the San Juan, Puerto Rico seaport.

CBP Seizes $29,000 Smuggled at San Juan

A few weeks back, CBP announced another recent seizure of unreported cash at the San Juan seaport in a shipment of cargo containers. A customs cash seizure in Puerto Rico also happened back in May. The story makes the same curiously absent identification of the event as being an incident of bulk cash smuggling, not just a failure to report.

In this case, the seizure of cash happened when U.S. Customs & Border Protection offciers were examining cargo containers and discovered some anomalies (presumably when imaging) a 55 gallon drum. The cash was destined for the Dominican Republic, as below:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET) seized approximately $29,000 in unreported currency in an outbound enforcement action at the San Juan Seaport.

The interception occurred Oct. 21 while CBP officers were examining cargo containers at a CBP facility.  CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of a container and discovered anomalies on a 55 gallon storage drum. Further examination revealed the hidden currency.  The container was destined to the Dominican Republic.

This is interesting because it again demonstrates that the currency reporting law applies equally to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Have you had cash seized by CBP in Puerto Rico?

If CBP seized your cash in Puerto Rico, you need a lawyer. That’s what we do. 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.

Dulles CBP Seizes $17k in Unreported Currency from Peruvian Woman

Another week, another cash seizure at Dulles airport by U.S. Customs & Border Protection. They are really racking of the seizures — and talk about it, a lot — this year.

The meat of the story says:

The woman arrived from Peru via Colombia shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday.  During a secondary examination, the woman initially reported that she possessed $3,000, and then changed that amount to $5,000.  CBP officers discovered $15,870 in U.S. dollars, and additional Peruvian Sol equivalent to $1,189 U.S. dollars for a total of $17,059 in her purse.

The untruthful report to CBP makes it this currency seizure completely legal under the federal currency reporting regulations, which penalize any failure to report cash to U.S. Customs & Border Protection. But not only did she have her cash seized, but:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $17,000, a fraudulent permanent resident identity card and a fraudulent social security card from a 54-year-old woman at Washington Dulles International Airport on Tuesday.

But, the story goes on to say that “authorities declined criminally prosecuting the woman.” At the time currency is seized, the seizing officers (or Homeland Security Investigations, I suppose…) are required to contact the U.S. Attorney’s office and advise them of the incident to determine whether to prosecute the case criminally and arrest the individual involved in the currency reporting violations.

However, CBP did “remove[] her from the United States for possessing fraudulent U.S. identity documents and barred her from re-entering the U.S. for five years.” Ooops!

Have you had cash seized at Dulles airport by Customs?

If you had cash seized at Dulles airport by Customs, 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.