Tag: fy 2016

A picture of nearly $70,000 in cash laid out on the body of pick-up truck seized by CBP (U.S. Customs & Border Protection).

CBP officers seize bulk $68,422 smuggled to Mexico

CBP seized about $70,000 from two U.S. citizens who were heading into Mexcio in what must be drug money being returned to Mexico. The story, related by CBP in a news release, and also in the El Paso Times, involves the concealment of the U.S. currency inside the dashboard of pick-up truck.

From the looks of the picture, though, you’d swear it was hidden in the rocker panels. No matter where the cash was hidden prior to discovery by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, any time money is concealed with the intent of not reporting is bulk cash smuggling; like the failure to report and illegal structuring, bulk cash smuggling is a crime punishable by heavy fines, forfeiture (permanent loss) of money, and jail time.

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $68,422 Thursday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden within the front dashboard of the vehicle. Two U.S. citizens were arrested.

CBP officers were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 3:30 p.m. a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado pick-up approached the checkpoint. The driver and vehicle were selected for an intensive inspection. During the x-ray inspection of the vehicle the officers noticed anomalies within the front dashboard area. Further inspection of the dashboard revealed currency bundles wrapped in black tape hidden within.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle. The driver, 35 year-old [redacted] of Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila, Mexico and her passenger, 30 year-old [redacted] of Fort Stockton, Texas, were arrested and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

So though both those involved are U.S. citizens, apparently one of them resides in Mexico. I’ve redacted the names because I have absolutely no interest in publicly shaming anyone for whom I have no proof of guilt other than mere arrest.

Were you caught bulk smuggling cash by CBP?

If you were caught bulk smuggling cash by CBP, we can help your get your money back from U.S. Customs & Border Protection and avoid forfeiture.  Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page, or requesting a call back.

A pile of $20 bills on a table.

CBP Seizes Structured Cash at Dulles

CBP Dulles seized over $23,000 that was unlawfully structured and not reported. Below, the story from CBP, explains that the a man was leaving the United States for South Africa and reported only $9,000, when he really had more than $13,000. This is the second recent story about a cash seizure at Dulles for from someone traveling to South Africa.

To make matters worse, CBP discovered that he was traveling with his sister, who was carrying another $10,000 for her brother. At Dulles airport, a structuring offense means a hefty penalty even if legitimate source and intended use of the documentation is presented.

Here are the interesting parts of the story, as told from the perspective of CBP Dulles:

STERLING, Va. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Washington Dulles International Airport seized over $23,000 from a South Africa-bound traveler on Thursday for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

During an outbound inspection, a CBP currency detection canine alerted to the carryon bags of a U.S. citizen.  The man, both verbally and in writing, declared to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000; however, $13,267 was discovered in his bags and on his person.  During the course of the inspection it was determined that he was traveling with his sister, a Ghanaian citizen.  An additional $10,000 in unreported currency was found in her bags which the man stated belonged to him.  The officers seized the $23,267, returned $667 to the man for humanitarian relief, and advised him how to petition for the return of the currency.  The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

Did you structure cash seized by CBP?

If you structured cash that was seized by CBP, 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.

 

Nearly $60,000 sealed in two clear plastic bags in bundles laying on a table that was confiscated by CBP

CBP Confiscates $57,691 in Cash at Veterans International Bridge

CBP seized almost $60,000 in currency from a two Mexican citizens leaving the United States last Wednesday at the Veteran’s International Bridge. The story from CBP says tells me this was in fact not a failure to report cash, but typical bulk cash smuggling:

The seizure took place on Wednesday, Sept. 21, when CBP officers working outbound inspections at the Veterans International Bridge came in contact with a bronze 2003 Chevy Trail Blazer as it attempted to exit the United States into Mexico. The driver, a 52-year-old female Mexican citizen from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and a passenger, a 35-year-old male Mexican citizen also from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, were selected for a routine inspection and were referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, with the aid of a K9 unit, CBP officers discovered two packages containing a total of $57,691 in bulk, unreported U.S. currency hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the currency along with the vehicle, arrested the driver and passenger and turned them over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. 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.

Have you had cash confiscated by CBP?

If CBP has confiscated your cash, you need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash confiscation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

Dulles Airport CBP Took Cash from Husband and Wife

Cash Taken by CBP From Travelers at Dulles

If you’re visiting the United States or leaving the United States and have more than $10,000 cash or equivalents, you must report it to CBP or risk having it seized for failing to report it (or worse yet, risk fines and jail time). A case in point comes to us from CBP at Dulles Airport from “from two South Africa-bound U.S. citizens on [September 22] for violating federal currency reporting violations“:

During an outbound inspection, the man and wife declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that they possessed $17,500; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $27,378 on their person and in their luggage.  The officers seized the $27,378 and advised them how to petition for the return of the currency. The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

So after the cash was taken, the couple was detained, questioned, and the cash counted, they were released to continue their journey.

What is a CBP detention like after cash is taken?

Typically after cash is taken by CBP, the seizure and detention takes long enough that the traveler’s cannot continue on their journey until the book a new flight (and pay re-booking fees). If husband and wife are traveling together, most of my husband-and-wife clients report that they are separated from each other and independently interrogated about the source of the cash and their intended destination, and what they intended to use the money for.

This interrogation can be done by a CBP officer or by a Homeland Security agent, depending on the situation. Customs’ is required to report the currency report violation to the U.S. Attorney’s office who is charged with determining whether or not they wish to press criminal charges, and thus determine if the violators should be arrested.

The encounters with CBP range from polite and apologetic to demeaning, rude, and aggressive; and everything else in between.

Did CBP take your cash?

If CBP took your cash, 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.

A picture of a CBP officer watching travelers at an airport. CBP Officers at Philadelphia International Airport seized $26,000 from a couple going to Greece for a failure to report the cash

CBP Seizes $12K at Baltimore Washington International Airport

CBP issued a news release about the seizure of little more than $12,000 from a woman traveling from a woman traveling from the UK to the USA who did not report the currency at Baltimore Washington International Airport.

Is it a big deal? Yes, any violation of the law is a big deal and carries with a potential for criminal prosecution, heavy fines, jail time, forfeiture (loss) of the money, along with shame, embarrassment, and everything else.

But is such a big deal that should make headlines? I don’t think so. These kind of cash seizures happen all the time all around the country at airports and land border crossings between the United States and Canada. There’s a lot more noteworthy seizures and even more noteworthy cash seizures that CBP could make public, but does not. Why? I have no idea.

The only purpose I see in reporting a relatively small violation of the reporting requirement — where the violator was not criminally charged and was even advised to file a petition — is that it serves some public good in making it known to others that they need to report cash if carrying more than $10,000 into or out of the United States.

Without further ado, here is the meat of the story from CBP:

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO), at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport seized $12,322 Tuesday from a Nigerian woman for violating federal currency reporting regulations.

A woman, who arrived on a flight from the United Kingdom reported carrying $9,000 to CBP officers however; multiple envelopes of currency totaling $12,322 was discovered in her luggage. CBP officers seized the $12,322 returning $322 for humanitarian release and advised her how to petition for the return of the currency.

Have you had cash seized from CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport?

If CBP at Baltimore Washington International Airport has 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.

An image of $3M in crisp bills stacked high in a cube in bundles

$3M Seized by CBP: A Lesson Money Laundering

Recently, the Border Patrol part of U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized about $3 million from a pair of people consiting of a Mexican national and a U.S. Citizen just outside of San Diego, California. The full story from CBP is available for reading here, but it involved two vehicles. Here are the relevant excerpts:

At the scene of the vehicle stop, a Border Patrol K-9 alerted agents to conduct a search of the vehicle, resulting in the discovery of eight vacuum-sealed bundles containing $33,880 that was stashed in the center console.  A 53-year-old male U.S. citizen was arrested upon the discovery.

Additional agents were able to locate the Volkswagen Passat as it was abandoned at a cul-de-sac located in a residential area within close proximity of the vehicle stop.  Soon after, the agents found the vehicle’s driver, a 41-year-old male Mexican national, hiding in some brush nearby and arrested him for suspicion of currency smuggling.  Agents searched the vehicle and seized $3,018,000 that was found inside eight boxes located in the trunk.

Business Insider (a publication which rarely seems to live up to its name) wrote an insightful piece on the the seizure and some background on bulk cash smuggling and how drug cartels must get the profits from their drug sales in the United States back to them in Mexico. The story says that this is largely done by physically moving the cash across the border, often in semi-trucks, hidden with commercial shipments. But another method is trade-based money laundering:

A fall 2014 investigation revealed that cash was being dropped off at clothing and textile companies in the city, which then used the cash to buy goods that were shipped to Mexico to be resold for pesos that eventually made their way to the Sinaloa and Knights Templar cartels.

“The Sinaloa Cartel used US drug proceeds to purchase clothes imported from China that were stored in the targeted fashion businesses’ warehouses,” the DEA said in its 2015 report. “The clothes were then shipped across the border into Mexico for resale and the profits placed into the Mexican financial system as legitimate proceeds.”

Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel has also reportedly taken advantage of free-trade agreements to launder money in Latin America, circumventing tariffs on apparel and reselling goods bought with dirty cash to earn a legitimate profit.

These schemes aren’t limited to clothes.

“They used commodities-based money laundering,” Vigil told Business Insider. “Where they buy, for example, gold and diamonds here, and then they smuggle them into Mexico. They’re sold over there and all of a sudden, voilà, you go from US dollars to Mexican pesos.”

In addition to this way of smuggling and laundering money, we also wrote about the rise in using magnetic cards to move cash across the border in bulk without the need to physically transport anything more than a hotel key card.

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.

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.

 

$45,000 of cash seized in envelopes by CBP laid out in 3 rows of 15 on on a wood table with a CBP logo

CBP Seizes $44k from Couple Flying to Ghana

What happens when you’re going to Ghana and you don’t declare your cash to CBP? Your cash is a Goner! Last week, CBP at Dulles Airport in Sterling Virginia seized $44,606 from a couple leaving the United States from Ghana.

According to CBP, the couple told CBP they only had $14,000…. that’s about $30,000 less than what they were carrying. If true, that is a pretty serious failure to report violation. No one forgets they are carrying $30,000 less than they have.

But there are always two sides to every story. In my experience, CBP occasionally has a way of justifying cash seizures if the facts later turn out not to support their reasons for seizure (like when family is traveling together and they think the money was intentionally structured). Here’s the story from CBP’s perspective:

In separate incidents on Monday at Washington Dulles International Airport, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted an impostor who arrived from Ghana, and seized about $44,000 from a couple heading to Ghana.

[ . . . ]

Moments later, a CBP K9 alert led to CBP officers seizing a total of $44,606 in U.S. dollars and equivalent foreign currency from a Ghanaian couple who attempted to board a flight to Ghana. The woman was already on the flight when CBP officers interviewed the man. The Ghanaian man reported to CBP officers that he possessed $9,000. He then reported that his wife had an additional $5,000. CBP officers discovered the additional currency during a baggage inspection.

CBP returned $1,500 to the couple and released them to continue their journey.

There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however, federal law requires travelers to report to CBP amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.

None of the three travelers was arrested. The Privacy Act prohibits releasing the travelers’ names since they were not criminally charged.

“These are two very serious violations of U.S. immigration and currency reporting laws, and these travelers are very fortunate to avoid criminal prosecution,” said Wayne Biondi, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Washington Dulles. “Customs and Border Protection hopes that these incidents are a reminder to all travelers to be truthful with CBP officers. The United States is a welcoming country, especially to those who respect our nation’s laws.”

Has CBP seized your cash?

If CBP has 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.

Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

CBP Detroit Cash Forfeitures for 7-29-16

Last Friday’s notice of seizure and intent to forfeit for U.S. Customs & Border Protection featured 3 currency seizures that occurred in 3 separate incidents on June 2 and June 9, with a total seizure value of $72,338.

The seizure on June 2 for $40,080, was for a failure to report cash to Detroit CBP and for bulk cash smuggling:

2016380700084501-001-0000, Seized on 06/02/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 403; EA; Valued at $40,080.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5332

The seizures on June 9, one for $17,657, was for a failure to report; the other, for $14,601, was for failure to report cash to Detroit CBP and for an unlawful cash structuring violation.

2016380700086001-001-0000, Seized on 06/09/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 186; EA; Valued at $17,657.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

2016380700086101-001-0000, Seized on 06/09/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 175; EA; Valued at $14,601.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A), 31USC5324

As with most cases that are posted up on forfeiture.gov, the publication of the intent to forfeit the property likely represents a total failure on the part of the person whose money was seized to successfully navigate the process for getting seized back from Detroit CBP.  Administrative forfeiture is a last resort and also has the worst outcome in most cases; if any money is recovered at all, it is often far, far less than would be recovered through the administrative petition process. But, whether to file a claim or an administrative petition is a decision that should be made in consultation with your attorney.

Due to how quickly people have money seized and the representations of the seizing officers, people mistakenly believe that getting seized money back from Detroit CBP is an easy process.

Instead, it is fraught 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.

A picture of a CBP officer watching travelers at an airport. CBP Officers at Philadelphia International Airport seized $26,000 from a couple going to Greece for a failure to report the cash

CBP’s Big Fat Greek Cash Seizure

In Philadelphia, CBP did what you might call a big, fat, greek cash seizure, when they seized $26,000 from a couple who were leaving the United States for Greece.

The couple reported $17,000, but for some reason they did not report the other $9,000, which was found in “multiple envelopes.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized more than $26,000 from a Greece-bound couple who violated federal currency reporting regulations at Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday.

During an outbound inspection, the couple reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $17,000. During an inspection, CBP officers discovered multiple envelopes that contained a combined $27,052. CBP officers provided the couple a humanitarian release of $501 and seized the remaining $26,551.

Officers released the couple to continue their travel to Greece.

Why would the couple fail to report the extra $9,000 to CBP? There are some things we do not know for certain. For example, the CBP officer could have led the couple to believe they only needed to report their own money, not money they were carrying for others; they could have asked them how much money they were carrying “in your carry-on”, when the other money was stashed away in a purse. And they could have panicked.

The story says that the couple was allowed to continue their travel to Greece. Most of my clients who’ve had money seized from Customs have to re-book for another flight, because the process of counting the money and seizing results can be a substantial delay. Sometimes my client’s don’t continue to their destination even if they can, because they have no money to travel with.

I’ve had clients who’ve taken a month off work for a vacation to their homeland, only to have their money seized with no source of funds to continue on the trip until they get their cash back. When CBP seizes cash, it is very often a heartbreaking, stressful, and traumatic experience.

But we are here to help! If you want to learn more about responding to a customs cash seizure in Philadelphia or anywhere else, read our trusted customs cash seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.