Tag: fy 2018

Cash seized by CBP in Dulles airport for failure to report laid out on a table with Homeland Security logo

CBP Seizes $170k from 7 Travelers at Dulles

Dulles CBP does it again, and again.. and again, again, again, and again, and… again. That is, they sezied almost $170,000 in cash at Dulles airport for not reporting cash to Customs before leaving the country.

The 7 cash seizures by Customs range over a 2 week period, from July 13 to August 1. Travelers were Cash seized by Customs not reported and hidden in a bag at Dulles airporttaking cash to Belgium, Ghana, Turkey, Qatar, and Serbia. In each case, the travelers were stopped by CBP before boarding their plan and incorrectly reported the amount of money they were traveling, when asked.

Note that, if you’re boarding your flight and you haven’t already made the report, even if you make an accurate report when stopped, you’ve already committed the violation of failure to report. Also, in these cases, not filing the report is only one of the potential charges; additionally, the money could be seized for bulk cash smuggling and structuring offenses, leading to a higher penalty. Worse yet, CBP can criminally indict any person for bulk cash smuggling, structuring, failing to report, and also making false statements to federal officials (i.e., reporting the wrong amount of money).

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $169,431 during seven recent violations of federal currency reporting laws at Washington Dulles International Airport.

It is not against the law to carry large amounts of currency in or out of the United States.  Arriving or departing travelers may carry as much currency as they wish.  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 where they enter or leave the country.

Consequences for violating U.S. currency reporting laws are severe; penalties may include seizure of most or all of the traveler’s currency, as illustrated by the following cases, and subjected to potential criminal charges.

  • CBP officers seized $21,735 from a Cameroon woman and son boarding a flight to Belgium August 1.  The family reported $9,700.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $735 to the family for humanitarian purposes and released the family.
  • CBP officers seized $30,721 from a U.S. man boarding a flight to Ghana July 30.  The man verbally reported $9,000 then wrote down that he possessed $11,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in white envelopes in a carry-on bag. Officers released $721 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $26,177 from a U.S. family boarding a flight to Turkey July 29.  The family reported $21,000.  Officers discovered additional currency concealed inside children’s socks and in cell phone cases. Officers released $1,177 to the man for humanitarian purposes and released him.
  • CBP officers seized $34,585 from a U.S. man and his Ghanaian wife boarding a flight to Ghana July 23.  The couple reported that they each possessed $10,000.  Officers discovered additional currency during an inspection.  Officers released $1,585 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $18,390 from a U.S. couple boarding a flight to Turkey July 21.  The couple reported $9,090.  Officers discovered additional currency in an envelope in a carry-on bag.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $20,645 from a U.S. man and his Jordanian wife boarding a flight to Qatar July 19.  The couple reported $14,020.  Officers discovered additional currency in envelopes in the woman’s purse.  Officers released $390 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and released them.
  • CBP officers seized $17,178 from a Kosovo woman boarding a flight to Serbia July 13.  The woman reported $8,000.  Officers discovered additional currency in luggage and carry-on bags.  Officers released $1,578 to the woman for humanitarian purposes and released the family.

In each case, CBP officers read the federal reporting requirements to the travelers and solicited their understanding of the law.  Officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency they possessed, both verbally and in writing.

“Customs and Border Protection outbound inspections protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity, or that fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “These currency seizures are a direct reflection of CBP’s continuing commitment to enforcing all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

Dulles is one of the more aggressive ports when it comes to seizures, penalties, and criminal indictments. If you’ve had money seized by Customs, you should hire a lawyer.

$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.

CBP Seizes $559,000 in Arizona

CBP seized more than a half-million dollars from a 37 year old Mexican man who had hid the cash in the spare tire of his truck when crossing the border from the United States to Mexico, CBP reports. Hiding the cash is bulk cash smuggling. The contains a somewhat odd and misleading statement about how the government brings criminal charges, more on that below this story:

TUCSON, Ariz. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at Arizona’s Port of San Luis arrested a Mexican national after seizing more than $559,000 in undeclared currency.

Officers performing outbound inspections referred the 37-year-old man Thursday afternoon, when a search of his Chevy truck led to the discovery of packages inside of his spare tire. A count of the cash totaled more than $559,290.

Customs and Border Protection officers seized the currency, and turned the subject over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Federal law allows officers to charge individuals by complaint, a method that allows the filing of charges for criminal activity without inferring guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The last paragraph contains the odd statements. Federal law does allow the use of complaint to file criminal charges, but without “inferring guilt”? My dictionary tells me “inferring” means to “deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements”. That doesn’t make sense; I think what they meant to say was that a complaint can be filed, and by the filing of the complaint, the subject of the criminal investigation is “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

The statement goes on to say that, sort of, but instead of saying “until proven guilty” it says “until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.” The problem here is that evidence must be not only presented, but it is up for the jury to make the determination that the evidence is enough to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And I’m not sure about the use of the term “competent” evidence; generally speaking, for evidence to even be submitted to a jury it must be relevant and issues of “competence” would, to my mind, only apply to individuals giving testimony. If someone is not competent to testify (due to insanity, minority, etc.), they would not be allowed to testify and therefore not have that testimony heard by the jury.

 

 

Seized cash in sealed shirt bags

CBP Chicago Seizes $107k Cash

Finally, a customs cash seizure in Chicago has made the news! This story involved over $100,000 being taken out of the country and into Jordan. The story states that at least part of the $107,360 was concealed in “several sealed shirt bags” which then prompted the individual to declare $107,000. Our Chicago office sees a few cash seizure cases each year.

Interestingly, the story states that it was seized because the passenger “failed to properly report” the cash — but they do not state that it was seized for bulk cash smuggling. Based on the explanation in the story, I would expect it to also be seized for bulk cash smuggling violations — which could mean a loss of 50% of the money by the individual even if they can prove it came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use.

CHICAGO—On April 11, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers assigned to O’Hare International Airport intercepted one male subject concealing $107,360 during an Outbound Enforcement Operation.The passenger was traveling alone on his way to Jordan. When asked, the passenger gave a currency declaration for monetary instruments in the amount of $20,000. However, during inspection of the subject’s carryon baggage, several sealed shirt bags were found and inspected revealing numerous bundles of $100 bills. When CBP Officers found the concealed currency, the subject stated he actually had $107,000.

CBP seized the money because the passenger failed to properly report he was traveling outside of the United States with more than $10,000 as required by 31 USC § 5316.

Has CBP Chicago Seized Your Cash?

If CBP Chicago seized your cash at Chicago O’Hare Airport or Midway airport, you should give us a call for a free currency seizure consultation and make use of our free customs cash seizure legal guide.

CBP Counting Seized Money on Steel Table

CBP Philadelphia Seized $152k in Unreported Cash

The last time we wrote about how CBP Philadelphia seized cash was more than 3 years ago. Cash seizures do not happen too frequently at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), but they definitely do happen.

As proof, recently CBP Philadelphia conducted two cash seizures, with the total value being over $150,000. The two men, apparently in two separate incidents, were traveling to Turkey and Ghana. The story is light on details and follows the typical format, including the 2017 cash seizure statistic that on a typical day, CBP seized $265,205.

Here are the (scant) details on the CBP Philadelphia cash seizure:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $152,342 in unreported currency from two men who recently departed Philadelphia International Airport.

On Saturday, CBP officers seized $105,842 from a man destined to Ghana who initially claimed that he possessed $60,000.

On April 1, CBP officers seized $46,500 from a man destined to Turkey who initially claimed that he possessed $30,000.

In each case, CBP officers afforded the travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report all currency.

CBP is not releasing the travelers’ names because none was criminally charged. Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

“Customs and Border Protection encourages all travelers to be completely honest and report all their currency during an inspection with a CBP officer.  Consequences could be severe, including seizure of all currency and possible criminal prosecution,” said Joseph Martella, CBP Area Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia.  “The best way for travelers to hold onto their currency is to fully comply with our nation’s currency reporting laws.”

Has CBP Philadelphia seized your cash?

If CBP Philiadelphia seized your cash at PHL airport, you should act quickly to ensure that your rights to get the money out of seizure and forfeiture are not lost. You should educate yourself on the process by reading our customs money seizure guide, or contact us directly for a consultation. Our experience can help you just like the many, many others we have already helped.

 

A CBP officer conducts a primary inspection at the SENTRI lane at Hidalgo International Bridge.

CBP seizes $11,00 from Trusted Traveler participant

Recently, CBP in Texas seized almost $11,000 from a “trusted traveler” who hid the money in her purse, in what sounds like it might be a bulk cash smuggling violation. I get several clients who have had money or undeclared goods seized, and who are members of trusted traveler programs, and are upset to find out that they are losing their trust traveler privileges. CBP has recently published a compilations of reasons people have been denied or had Global Entry revoked available here.

As this article somewhat explains, participation in these programs is a privilege, not a right; it is based on CBP’s determination that you are a low risk. If you demonstrate that you are no longer a low risk by not declaring goods or cash, then you will lose the privilege. The full story is available here, but it is edited for clarity by yours truly, as follows:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) at the Hidalgo International Bridge recently seized $10,652 in unreported U.S. currency from a Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) member utilizing the trusted traveler lane.

On March 2, CBP officers at the Hidalgo International Bridge conducting inspections at the SENTRI lane selected a 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe for further inspection. The vehicle was driven by a 40-year-old female United States citizen from Pharr, TX. During the secondary search, officers discovered a total of $10,652 in unreported U.S. currency concealed throughout the woman’s purse.

CBP OFO seized the currency and revoked the woman’s SENTRI privileges. The case remains under investigation by Homeland Security Investigations special agents.

“CBP would like to remind the traveling public that SENTRI is a trusted traveler program, and any violations of program rules, such as non-declaration of currency in excess of $10,000, can lead to permanent revocation of SENTRI privileges,” said Port Director Carlos Rodriguez, Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. “SENTRI members have demonstrated that they are low-risk travelers, and should be reminded that they are not exempt from inspection and more importantly, that violations of customs, immigration, agriculture laws and federal currency reporting requirements can lead to suspension from the program.”

SENTRI is a trusted traveler program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S. via a dedicated lane. Participants must undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview.

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.

Have you had cash or goods seized by CBP?

If you had cash or goods seized by CBP and are a trusted traveler, you will lose your trusted traveler status. However, you might still be able to get the seized cash or goods back if you act quickly; contact Great Lakes Customs Law for a consultation to learn what you can do to get your cash and goods back from CBP.

 

CBP Dulles Seizes Cash Bound for Ghana and Turkey

Dulles CBP conducted more currency seizure operations on people entering and leaving the country for not report carrying more than $10,000 cash. The law requires that transporting more than $10,000 in cash into or out of the United States be reported to a Customs officer at the port of entry or departure, typically on FinCen Form 105. In this particular summary of enforcement activity, CBP seized a total of about $56,000 from a three different sets of travelers, as follows:

Three more travelers failed to truthfully report all their currency to a CBP officers and saw their currency seized.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 $18,565 from a passenger boarding a flight to Istanbul, Turkey Sunday. Officers discovered the unreported currency in the travelers checked baggage, carry-on bag and cellular phone case.
  • CBP officers seized $20,710 from a family boarding a flight to Ankara, Turkey Sunday. Officers discovered the unreported currency in the family’s baggage.
  • CBP officers seized $17,210 from a couple boarding a flight to Accra, Ghana Sunday. Officers discovered the unreported currency in four envelopes inside their baggage.

Travelers in all three cases were U.S. citizens. None was arrested.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States. None of the currency is taxed. Federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or monetary instruments must report it to a CBP officer and complete a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.

“Customs and Border Protection urges travelers to be completely honest during CBP inspections, including by truthfully report all of their currency,” 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.

Did you fail to report more than $10,000 in cash to CBP?

If you fail to report more than $10,000 in cash to CBP, your money could be seized. If your money has been seized for a failure to report, you should contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

WPM Mark

Regulated Wood Packaging Material (WPM) and Penalties

Nearly 5 years ago, we blogged about Regulated Wood Packaging Material (WPM) violations, and the trouble it can get importers into. You can read all about that in Regulated Wood Packaging Material Customs Violations. CBP’s page with links to various WPM resources is accessible on CBP’s website HERE.

But, now something has changed. Pursuant to the old CBP guidelines, an importer could have 5 WPM violations in one year before they were penalized. However, as of November 1, 2017, and importer is liable for a penalty in the first instance of a WPM violation.

The new frequently asked questions published by CBP and summarize the change thus “Effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty. This is a change from the previous published tolerance of five WPM violations.”

This change was initially broadcast through customs Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS #17-000612). That message states the reason for the change in enforcement as follows:

To motivate WPM compliance, effective November 1, 2017, responsible parties with a documented WPM violation may be issued a penalty under Title 19 United States Code (USC) § 1595a(b) or under 19 USC § 1592.  This is a change from the previous published threshold of 5 violations.  There will be no yearly reset for calculating repeat violations as each WPM violation may incur a penalty.

So, importers: be motivated.

Can an application to separate violative wood packaging material still be filed?

Yes, the new guidelines still permit importer’s to file an application to separate violative wood packaging material to avoid re-importation of the merchandise.

If you have been informed that you wood packaging material is in violation of the law and needs to be re-exported, immediately contact us and we can prepare an application to separate violative wood packaging material so that, if it is granted, you do not have to undergo the time and expense of re-exporting the merchandise you are trying to import.

Can WPM penalties be mitigated?

Yes, WPM penalties can be mitigated. Never pay full price in a penalty proceeding! If you have received a notice of penalty or liquidated damages and are being told you must pay as a result of the violation, immediately call or e-mail our office at (734) 855-4999 and we can prepare a petition for mitigation of the penalty amount.

A picture of seized cash in an evidence bag from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Baltimore CBP Seizes $16k in Unreported Cash

Back in October, I blogged about a cash seizure in Baltimore and said that the port of Baltimore doesn’t make it into the news too much for cash seizures. Of course, because I posted that about a month later there is a report of another cash seizure coming out of Baltimore for a failure to accurately report all money to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when leaving the United States.

Here is the full story (original here):

BALTIMORE — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $16,100 from a Nigerian man at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Monday.

The man, who CBP has not named because he was not criminally charged, initially reported to officers that he possessed $1,500.  During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered a $10,000 stack of currency and a $6,100 stack of currency.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

“The United States is a welcoming nation.  All we ask is that visitors respect our nation’s laws and truthfully report all currency they possess during an inspection with a Customs and Border Protection officer,” said Dianna Bowman, CBP Area Port Director for the Area Port of Baltimore.

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 cash seized by Customs at Dulles airport while traveling to Ghana

Dulles CBP Seizes $40k Cash Unreported

Dulles continues to be the leading source for news-releases pertaining to cash seizures for more than $10,000 for failure to report to Customs, or bulk cash smuggling, and the related offenses under Title 31 of the United States Code. In this particular story (original here), Customs seized $40,000 from a man who reported traveling with $25,000.

Upon making that report he completed a FinCEN 105 form (probably under some duress) for that same amount. At this point (as they always do), CBP conducted a complete search of his person and baggage to determine if he was telling the truth. As is frequently the case, he was not. In fact, they discovered another $10,000 in a white envelope and another $5,400 in some other places. Here is the full story:

STERLING, Va., — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $40,900 from a man boarding a flight to Ghana last Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The man, who CBP has not named because he was not criminally charged, initially reported to officers that he possessed $500.  After officers advised the man of U.S. currency reporting regulations, the man presented three white envelopes that contained $25,000, and reported that much on a financial reporting form.

CBP officers then discovered a manila envelope with $10,000, an additional white envelope in the man’s backpack that contained $5,000, and $400 more in his wallet.  The combined currency equaled $40,900.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States.  Federal law requires that travelers must report all U.S. and foreign monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or greater on a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.  None of the currency is taxed.

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 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.