Tag: firearm

CBP Seizes Guns & Money to Mexico

Guns, money, and and lawyers; the first two items are what this disjointed story from CBP is about, and the last is what the 3 people involved in this cash and firearm seizures by CBP will need. Customs seized $20,000 outbound to Mexico which resulted in an arrest, another $38,000 that probably (but not certainly resulted in an arrest), and a a cache of guns and ammo.

It reminds me of the song, “Lawyers, Guns & Money” (the Hank Williams, Jr. cover of the song is a bit more lively…. ). The total amount seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection was $58,000 cash. Anyway, here’s the story from CBP:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at Arizona’s Port of Lukeville arrested two Mexican nationals Tuesday after finding unreported U.S. currency, weapons and ammunition in separate seizures.

Officers referred a 27-year-old Mexican man for a further search of his Dodge sedan Tuesday night and found more than $20,000 in unreported U.S. currency within the vehicle’s center console. This is the second unreported currency seizure this week.

On March 11, Lukeville officers prevented $38,000 from being smuggled into Mexico.

At about the same time, officers referred a 43-year-old Mexican woman for a secondary inspection of the Dodge truck she was driving. That search turned up multiple firearms and associated accessories to include several assault rifles, a handgun, multiple ammunition magazines, two weapon scopes and approximately 6,000 rounds of ammunition.


CBP seizes ammo and $9,995 cash, make criminal charges

Channel 4 Valley Central news picked up on a seizure of ammunition and some cash at the Hidalgo International Bridge last Wednesday. The story is noteworthy because it involves the seizure of less than $10,000…. by about $5 bucks.

Who travels with $9,995? Someone who has structured their currency transaction so that they would not have to file a currency transaction report on FinCen 105 and report their cash to U.S. Customs & Border Protection, that’s who.

And what’s wrong with traveling with $9,995 if you desire to avoid the hassle of reporting the money to CBP? Everything, because it’s against the law! That’s called unlawful cash structuring. Let’s have a look at an excerpt from the criminal complaint:


It is somewhat suspicious but, his explanations have a ring of truth to it. Nevertheless, exporting ammunition from the U.S. (and thought not charged with it… structuring a cash transaction to evade the reporting requrement) is illegal, and therefore, a crime. And at the end of the day, that’s the reason he was charged; he’s not been charged with intending to use the ammo or the cash for any nefarious purpose (even if CBP believes that he did so intend).

Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Officers seized more than 400 rounds of ammunition and $9,995 at the Hidalgo bridge on Wednesday.

Espinoza “provided CBPOs with a negative declaration for currency, weapons and ammunition,” according to the criminal complaint.Officers search Espinoza’s vehicle and found $9,995 cash — $6,620 underneath a battery cover inside the engine and $3,375 stuffed in an envelope, according to the criminal complaint.

They also found 400 rounds of ammunition.

“Espinoza claimed the U.S. currency was meant to purchase vehicles from a local auto auction company in the McAllen, Texas area, but he did not purchase the vehicles,” according to the criminal complaint. “He stated that he hid the U.S. currency in the engine compartment to conceal it from Mexican Customs officials and the cartel because they would take it from him if they knew he had it.”

Has your cash been seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection?

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Wrong Turn in Detroit Results in Customs Seizure, Arrest

The news release below describes a fairly common occurrence; the wrong turn. I’ve had client’s make a wrong turn only to inadvertently end up at a border crossing and have their money confiscated by Customs for failure to file a report. In the case below, the guy who made the wrong turn had a couple of guns on him, which of course resulted in more than a civil seizure:

DETROIT- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) Officers assigned to the Fort Street Cargo Facility arrested a man and seized three weapons during an examination this past weekend.

On January 17, 2015 a 58 year old Florida resident, made a wrong turn in a commercial truck onto the Ambassador Bridge and ended up on Customs Money Seizurethe Canadian side of the border. The man declared three weapons a .45 caliber hand gun, 12 gauge shotgun and .38 caliber revolver.

The individual was returned to the U.S. by Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) escort. CBP learned through computer databases, that the man has a criminal history for felony convictions involving carrying concealed weapons and drug possession.

“Our cooperation with CBSA is vital in taking prohibited and illegal weapons off the streets of our communities,” stated Roderick Blanchard, Detroit Port Director. “Teamwork such as this leads to positive outcomes for everyone.”

The man was arrested and turned over to ICE Homeland Security Investigations Task Force Officers along with the seized weapons. The man is facing State of Michigan charges for being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.

If you made a wrong turn into the clutches of U.S. Customs and had your money or property seized, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page (see our case results here). We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles about money seizures by customs:

  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. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations

Detroit Customs Seizes Imported Machine Gun

Customs in Detroit recently seized a firearm, as detailed in a local and interesting news release. In this case the firearm was a .50 caliber machine gun. The original story is available here, but it is reproduced in full below. The only information we have available is that which is in the news release, which is a bit foggy on the details, but nevertheless it appears this was primarily a problem with insufficient and incorrect/misleadings documents presented to customs at the time of entry into the United States. The driver of the commercial cargo van only presented a manifest and a “generic email” the described the shipments as machine gun parts when, allegedly, it was an “assembled” U.S. origin machine gun (picture below, appears disassembled but more than just “parts” as described by the manifest).

Ultimately, Customs seized the gun apparently not because it was prohibited from entry, but because the importer “failed to satisfy federal importation procedures [regarding] documentation, manifest, bill of lading, entry type, proper invoice, tariff classification and proper disclosure of intent.”  The story below:

DETROIT- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Fort Street Cargo Facility in Detroit seized a .50-caliber machine gun during a cargo inspection. .50 Cal Machine Gun Seized at Fort Street Cargo Facility
Detroit Customs Machine Gun SeizureOn May 13, a commercial cargo van arrived at the cargo facility with only a copy of an electronic manifest and no invoice to describe the cargo. The only information about the shipment provided by the driver was the manifest, listing the shipment as Cal Machine gun parts and a generic email. The shipment was in fact, an assembled .50 caliber machine gun manufactured by an Ohio company.

After consultation with Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and agents from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), CBP officers seized the machine gun as the shipment failed to satisfy federal importation procedures in regards to documentation, manifest, bill of lading, entry type, proper invoicing, tariff classification and proper disclosure of intent.

“Both CBP and the importing community have a shared responsibility to maximize compliance with laws and regulations. CBP encourages importers to be familiar with applicable laws and regulations, especially when there are specific requirements related to a particular commodity,” said Rod Blanchard, CBP Port Director in Detroit.

A monetary penalty was assessed against the importer and the weapon was returned to Canada.

Importers and travelers should visit www.atf.gov for importation information for firearms.

Based on the story, it seems that all of these problems could have been avoided if the importer had done their customs law homework and either consulted with or hired a customs broker prior to attempting to import the machine gun into the United States. Here is where the story gets a little more confused; although it seems customs seized the machine gun, it also seems that the seizure was shortly remitted and allowed to be shipped back to Canada.

The bad news is that the importer was already assessed a penalty (also, if true, that’s a fast turn around for a penalty from customs — it can sometimes take months). Great Lakes Customs Law handles penalty mitigation proceedings (some history of our success is HERE) and, if not already done, this importer should seriously consider trying to get the penalty mitigated if the amount is high. I do wonder what the penalty amount and basis is for this particular alleged violation because I could foresee a variety of them including importations contrary to law, falsity of manifest, failure to declare, and a few others.

If you have had your merchandise seized or have received a notice of penalty from customs, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer about the possibility of getting your penalty reduced, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions and in penalty cases by customs nationwide.