Tag: detroit metro airport

US and Canadian Currency Seized by CBP in March 2024

Detroit Cash Seizures at Ambassador Bridge & Detroit Metro Airport in March 2024

CBP officers in Detroit had their own version of March madness, when they seized around $370,000 total in cash from travelers at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, and another $100,000 at the Ambassador Bridge that connects the US & Canada (these figures are according to CBP’s really awesome currency seizure dashboard).

I was away from X/Twitter for a while but checked back in when I learned a new Director of Field Operations was appointed for the Detroit Field Office at CBP. Lo, and behold, there was lot of publicized seizure activity for March. A bonus was the high-res images images of the seized currency for a few cases for the month. So here is a walk-through of those seizure incidents for March 2024:

On March 1, there was a total of $30,000 seized (in more than one incident) at Detroit Metropolitan airport for passengers arriving in the United States:

Usually, people arriving with cash (who are usually not arrested) bring it with them for travel expenses, purchases, college tuition, and things of that nature.

On March 3rd, there was a total of $23,000 seized in combined amounts of U.S. dollars and Canadian currency at the Ambassador Bridge:

The activity at the Ambassador Bridge also includes travelers, but there’s always a good number of people gambling at Windsor or Detroit casinos who run afoul of the currency reporting laws when they’re crossing the border with their winnings.

On March 8, CBP seized $30,000 from someone leaving the United States for Amsterdam (probably where they would catch another connecting flight somewhere else….) at Detroit Metro Airport:

On March 23, a similar story with $22,000 seized from two travelers (seemingly traveling together) at Detroit Metro Airport on their way out of the United States (true story: most people don’t know they have to report amounts over $10,000 when leaving the country!):

Has Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized your cash whether at the Detroit Metro airport, the Ambassador Bridge, or the Tunnel, you need a lawyer. 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.

Detroit Field Offices 2020 Statistics

CBP Detroit Cash Seizures Decline by Nearly 60% in Pandemic

In fiscal year 2019 (October 2018 through October 2019), CBP seized $7.8 million in cash from (most unsuspecting) travelers at Detroit Metro Airport, the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, and the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

Last fiscal year (October 2019 through October 2020), however, CBP seized nearly 60% less than 2019! CBP seized only $4.6 million in cash in 2020. A marked decrease, likely due to the travel restrictions for basically 7 months of the entirety of the fiscal year. Here’s the story:

DETROIT — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel operating at the multiple ports of entry throughout Michigan had an unprecedented year, with a 1,736 percent increase in seized marijuana and 227 percent increase in seized firearms amid public health concerns and restricted travel conditions related to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The Detroit Field Office includes the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit Windsor Tunnel, the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron, the International Bridge in Sault Ste. Marie, and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Drug enforcement operations at Michigan’s five ports of entry netted the following totals: 9,059 pounds of marijuana – a 1,726 percent increase when compared with last fiscal year; 211 pounds of cocaine, more than 1.5 pounds of methamphetamines; and a little more than 15 pounds of fentanyl.

A total of 203 firearms were seized – a 227 percent increase from last year – along with 5,334 rounds of ammunition.

The amount of undeclared currency seized totaled $4.6 million dollars.

A total of 225 individuals were arrested in Fiscal Year 2020 for reasons to include: narcotics smuggling, human smuggling, firearms violations, and fraud.

Finally, our Agriculture Specialists intercepted 2,010 pests. Their diligence and expertise is crucial in preventing foreign pests from causing harm to the agriculture industry.

“This past year the men and women of CBP worked through some of the most adverse conditions that we have ever asked them to work through especially here in Detroit,” said Christopher Perry, Director of Field Operations for CBP in Detroit. “I am simply amazed at how our officers steadfastly enforced the laws of the United States, while fostering our nation’s economic security through lawful international trade and travel during the greatest pandemic my generation has seen.”

We have noticed an uptick in seizure cases again as the pandemic wanes, and people get vaccinated and become more comfortable (and able) to travel. Fiscal year 2021, which began in October 2020 and ends on October 2021, will still be majorly affected by pandemic. Less travel means less cash seizures by CBP.

Has Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Detroit seized your cash, you need a lawyer. 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.


Hundred dollar bills seized by CBP in Detroit

CBP Cash Seizures and Enforcement Increase at Detroit Metro Airport

A story that CBP in Detroit is increasing cash reporting enforcement at Detroit Metro Airport was all over the local news headlines last week (see here, and here), but because of it, I was not able to post and comment about it until now (yes, it’s busy).

CBP Detroit has released mid-(fiscal)-year statistics in the past, and they have done so again this year. They usually come around May (we commented on it in 2017, further back in 2015 and first in 2013).

Most of the seizures happen at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan. CBP Officers there are very active in seizing money. And for good reason: lot’s of people don’t report it, or for some reason, think it’s illegal to carry cash (it’s not!). There’s a lot of people traveling with cash there, because it’s an ethnically diverse area and a connecting hub for many flights where people tend to use cash: China, India, and the Middle East.

How much of a difference is this over past years, really? Well, here’s a summary of all data from this story and comparing it to those we wrote about in years past,

  • October 1, 2016 to May 2, 2017 = $4.4 million (2+ quarters)
  • October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015 = $10,067,095 (full year)
  • October 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 = $3,852,252 (2 quarters)
  • October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2019 = $2,384,360 (2 quarters)

While we don’t have the exact data for an apples-to-apples comparison, it looks like Detroit CBP at Metro Airport is closely approximating the seizure activity of the their 2016-2017 fiscal year this year, when they seized $4.4 million by May 2.

We’ve definitely noticed an increase a clients reporting seized money from CBP, especially for this time of year. So far, our firm has handled 48 cases this fiscal year — and a total of 342 since 2012. We are by far the most experienced law firm to help get seized money back from Detroit Customs.

The original story can be read here, but is reproduced below:

ROMULUS, Mich. – During the first half of fiscal year 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers within the Detroit Field Office achieved a 62% increase in the seizure of unreported currency from international passengers as compared to the same period last year. A vast majority of the seizures occurred at Detroit Metro Airport.

Thus far in fiscal year 2019 starting October 1 and ending March 31, CBP has seized $3,852,262 in unreported currency from international travelers, this compares to $2,384,360 seized during the same time frame for fiscal year 2018.

CBP in conjunction with its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) partners, continues its efforts to prevent the unreported movement of currency through the Detroit Metropolitan Airport and other ports of entry within the Detroit Field Office.  

“This increase clearly demonstrates our continued commitment, and that of our partners, to protect the United States from proceeds of criminal activity,” said Devin Chamberlain, CBP Port Director at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Bulk cash smuggling is the act of concealing currency and/or reportable monetary instruments with the intent of evading currency reporting requirements, in an attempt to transfer or transport the currency or monetary instrument(s) across an international border.

While it is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, federal currency reporting requirements state that travelers must report currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more [Editor: This is wrong. It’s “more than $10,000”) to a CBP officer upon entry to or exit from the United States.  Failure to declare may result in the seizure of the currency, and possible arrest.  An individual may petition for the return of currency seized [Editor: Or file a claim, make an offer in compromise, etc.], but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

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 checkpoint at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing, with vehicles in the foreground.

Detroit & Chicago Cash Forfeiture Notices

There have not been any CBP news releases recently about cash seizures conducted by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, but that does not mean CBP has stopped seizing cash. Far from it, in fact. For example, there are only a couple (if that) of cash seizure news releases from the Port of Detroit each year, yet last year they were #2 in cash seizures nationwide.

Once cash is seized by CBP, a person has several options to try to get it back (or to not get it back), most of which are on the election of proceedings form. If they aren’t successful, don’t try to get the money back, or file a claim, the publication of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit is published online for all the world to see and, if interested, to make a claim for the seized cash.

Case in point, on November 20, 2015, at the land border crossing between Detroit and Canada $14,000 cash was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for a failure to report. Because the seizure occurred last November and is only now being published, it is very likely that the administrative resolution was unsuccessful.

That usually means a bad lawyer, no lawyer, or insufficient documentation showing legitimate source and use of the seized cash.

2016380100013401-001-0000, Seized on 11/20/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; $14000 IN USD; 140; EA; Valued at $14,000.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Now even though Detroit has more CBP cash seizures than Chicago for violating the reporting requirements, Chicago CBP seizes a lot of cash seizures for alleged criminal violations, including money laundering:

2016390100098701-001-0000, Seized on 08/11/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 1,344; EA; Valued at $31,000.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956, 21USC881

2016390100098901-001-0000, Seized on 08/10/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 176; EA;Valued at $4,000.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956, 21USC881

Now, I would love to know if these were seized from people traveling internationally, or just people traveling within the United States. If seized while traveling internationally, because there is no cited violation of the reporting requirement (or bulk cash smuggling or structuring laws), I would imagine either the money was truly reported but Customs suspected (or knew of…) a connection to illegal activity; or, the connection to illegal activity was so strong they chose not to allege a violation of the reporting requirements laws under Title 31.

Has Chicago or Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Chicago or Detroit seized your cash, you need a lawyer. 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. Our new, Chicago customs law office is located at 150 S. Wacker Drive, where we can be reached at (773) 920-1840.
Being Forced to Abandon Cash to Customs can Occur by Signing an Election of Proceedings form or Notice of Abandonment form

Threatened by CBP to abandon cash

Based on our sources, I have come to the belief that a good chunk of the notices of seizure and intent to forfeit publications/postings concerning cash seized at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport are the result of an effort, on the part of some CBP officers, to encourage people to abandon their money through such things as the threat of arrest, or the threat of futility. Read the we called “Forced to Abandon Cash to Customs?” from a few months ago about the process (video on the topic here).

The threat of arrest is real, if often improbable. Not reporting currency, smuggling cash, and/or structuring it is a crime, even punishable by prison. But, in our experience, if there is no apparent and obvious connection to illegal activity, CBP will not make an arrest and there will be no criminal prosecution.

At the time of seizure, I’ve had clients tell me they are presented (prematurely…) with an “election of proceedings form”. The election of proceedings form is explained to them in a way that leads the client to believe there only chance of avoiding arrest is to choose to abandon the money and relinquish all rights to it and to future notice; and if they don’t want to abandon it, they will be arrested, will have to go to court, and even if they win, they will only get back a few dollars due to fees and penalties that will be charged. That’s the threat of futility. Why fight if you’ll never win?

This is not true. Never, ever trust the people who are seizing your money to tell you the truth about the best way to get it back. Never take legal advice from anyone who is not a lawyer, especially if that person is has no reason to act in your best interests. Above all, remember, you have the right to remain silent.

With this in mind, last week’s Forfeiture Notice for Detroit contained a high dollar seizure that occured on June 29, 2016, at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Here’s the excerpt:

2016380700090601-001-0000, Seized on 06/29/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 437; EA; Valued at $36,090.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316,  31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

When faced with a situation where CBP is telling you to abandon the cash or risk everything, it’s the proverbial gun to the head. “Give me your money or your life” situation. Don’t be fooled, the choices CBP may have presented you with are not real. They are false, and might be designed to manipulate you into abandoning your hard earned money.

Did you abandon cash to Customs (CBP)?

If you abandoned your cash by mistake, or by the threat of force or coercion, you need the advice of a customs lawyer, not this article (which is not legal advice). If you were forced to abandon cash to Customs, 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. You can also watch this video where this topic is discussed:


An image of 11 counterfeit championship rings that were seized by Detroit U.S. Customs & Border Protection at Detroit Metropolitan airport.

Detroit CBP Seizes $680k in Counterfeit Championship Rings

CBP at Detroit Metro Airport seized $680,000 worth of counterfeit championship rings that were being imported into the United States from China. This counterfeit seizure by happened in April, but it is just now making the news.

That’s probably because the story finally made it from FP&F to CBP’s press department, or because the notice of seizure was finally mailed after a final determination by CBP that the rings were actually counterfeit. A valuation of $680,000 means that Customs is putting an MSRP value on each ring of $5,000.

Recall that each time you cause an importation of a counterfeit item into the United States it subject to seizure and you are subject to a penalty, as the importer, for up to the value of the goods if they were real. You can read more about that in our other articles on that topic: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  (click to read).

The use of a fictitious name by the importer opens the importer up to additional liability beyond merely violation 19 USC 1526(e) (importing counterfeits), by charges involving fraud. Not a smart move. Here’s the story:

DETROIT— In late April, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $680,000 (MSRP) in counterfeit NHL, NFL and MLB championship rings in a shipment that originated on a flight from China.

While conducting operations at a DHL consignment facility, the Cargo Enforcement Team selected and examined a shipment of rings from China, resulting in the discovery of 136 counterfeit championship rings from the National Football League, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. In all, the counterfeit rings displayed the names and logos of several teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets. The shipment also included rings for the Chicago Black Hawks and the Boston Red Sox.

The company identified as the receiver of the rings used a fictitious name and was found to have previous copyright/trademark violations.

Have you had allegedly counterfeit merchandise seized by CBP in Detroit?

Not only do you have rights to contest the determination that the merchandise was counterfeit (like getting a sample of seized merchandise), but if you’ve been penalized we are very successful in getting penalties reduced or eliminated entirely. Click the contact button on this page to get in touch with us today!

June 10th notice of seizure and intent to forfeit for a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport

Money Seizure at Detroit Metro Airport in 6/10 Notice

In March 2015, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (Customs) seized $8,188 USD and $4,901.52 of Taiwanese New Dollar cash from a traveler at the Detroit Metro Airport. The seizure was for a simple failure to report cash to Customs (recall here that there is no limit on traveling into or out of the country with more than $10,000, but the money must be properly reported to CBP to avoid seizure).

Just this June 10th, CBP in Detroit published a notice of seizure and intent to forfeit the cash (valued at $13,098.62) for that same violation of law; presumably, the reason for the delay between the seizure over 15 months ago and the publication of the forfeiture notice is that either no one could prove the money was from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use, the person tried to do it themselves without a lawyer (and messed up), or had a lawyer who knew nothing about the process for getting back cash seized by Customs.

To anyone who considers getting back seized money without a lawyer, be forewarned: the process is complex and we have seen many attorneys lose cases that our firm could have won because they don’t know what they are doing. Just this past week, we’ve been undoing the mess of an immigration lawyer who (in my opinion) is about to be responsible for permanently losing around $12,000 for his clients who had a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport last year.

This person might be in the same predicament; bad advice, or no advice. And as a consequence, good-bye money! Perhaps they’ll get smart and give us a call before they don’t even stand a chance of getting back a penny.



2015380700055701-001-0000, Seized on 03/04/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED;
118; EA; Valued at $8,188.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316
2015380700055701-002-0000, Seized on 03/04/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; TAIWAN CURRENCY
RETAINED; 480; EA; Valued at $4,910.62; For violation of 21USC5317,31USC5316

Have you had a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport?

If you experienced a money seizure at Detroit Metro Airport 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.

An April 22, 2016 notice of seizure and intent to forfeit cash by CBP Detroit.

Forfeiture Pending for $15,000 Seized at DTW

Here is today’s excerpt from Detroit CBP’s posting on forfeiture.gov — $15,000 seized for failure to failure to report at Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW – port code 3807).
The fact that $15,000 was seized by CBP in August 2015, and only 8 months later is the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit being published, tells me that someone tried unsuccessfully to get the money back by making an offer in compromise or an administrative petition. This is why we recommend hiring a customs lawyer to get seized cash back from Customs.

2015380700127501-001-0000, Seized on 08/16/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 150; EA; Valued at $15,000.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316

Once a seizure case goes this far without a resolution administratively, a good outcome for a case such as this is getting any amount of money back, especially when the amount seized is only $15,000.

Has your petition or officer in compromise been denied by CBP in Detroit?

If your petition or offer in compromise has been denied by CBP in Detroit, 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.
CBP checkpoint at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing, with vehicles in the foreground.

Over $350k per day in cash seized by CBP in 2015

CBP tweeted the other day about cash seized by CBP in 2015, and drug seizures. On “a typical day,” CPP seized $356,396 in cash nationwide; based on the number for the Detroit field office, $27,581 was seized “on a typical day” in Detroit.

Because CBP Detroit was #2 in the nation for currency seizures based on total amount of seizures (totaling $10M), a large part of that national average is due to the efforts of CBP Officers at the ports in the Detroit Field Office, most especially the officers at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

The cash seizures are from you run-of-the-mill everyday traveler who are bringing money to the United States for tuition, medical treatment, and to establish a new life; other times, the cash seizures are part of a cash smuggling operation bringing the money into or out of the United States to further the illicit narcotics trade across the borders.

In Detroit, our experience is most of these cases are run-of-the-mill travelers coming into the United States with legitimate money that’s intended to be used for legitimate sources. With our experience and good documentation, we are help to get cash back from Customs after seizure.

The lesson? Prevent seizure of cash by reporting all currency, fully, accurately, and completely to U.S. Customs & Border Protection before they have a chance to stop and question you about it. Don’t be like the poor folks who had their cash seized by CBP in 2015, be sure to report your money. Remember, the duty it yours to report the transportation of more than $10,000 into or out of the country before you are ever asked to make a report!