Tag: fy 2019

$1 million dollars stacked on table seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes $1 Million in Cash at Laredo

The government shut-down prevented CBP from releasing news stories about the cash seizure and customs enforcement activity. Now that the shutdown is over (for now), we have a new story from CBP in Laredo.

In this case, as so often is the case in the cash seizures that occur along the U.S.-Mexico border, this story has the feel of the movement of cash in facilitation of the illegal drug trade.

Isn’t there something suspicious about a 20 year-old woman driving a 9 year old car that has 53 bundles of cash in it? Yes, absolutely; it’s improbably. In this case, officers had more to go on than just their own suspicions, because the money was not reported.

Not only was there a failure to report cash to Customs, but the money was likely smuggled (i.e., hidden) because the story implies that to find the cash officers had to use a imaging system scan and an intensive examination (this usually means they ripped off body panels and parts of the vehicle to locate the cash).

LAREDO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers Juarez-Lincoln Bridge recently seized nearly $1 million in unreported currency hidden within a passenger vehicle during an outbound examination.

The seizure occurred on Friday, Jan. 25 at Juarez-Lincoln Bridge when a CBP officer conducting outbound examinations selected a 2010 Nissan Maxima driven by a 20-year-old female U.S. citizen for examination. After initial inspection utilizing a non-intrusive imaging systems scan, CBP officers conducted an intensive physical examination and discovered 53 bundles containing a total of $988,550 in unreported currency hidden within the vehicle. 

CBP officers seized the currency and arrested the driver.  The case was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) special agents for further investigation.

Has Laredo CBP seized your cash?

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CBP officer revealing $27,500 concealed in a traveler's backpack, seized for bulk cash smuggling and not reporting

$57,000 in Cash Seized from Beninese Travelers

Recently, CBP seized a large amount of money arriving into the United States because it was not reported. The seizure occurred when CBP stopped a Beninese couple who had arrived in the United States from Belgium.

Upon being asked, they reported less than $10,000. Then they changed the story to $9,500 and €19,000.

Of course, that turned out not to be the whole truth.

Instead, they had more than $15,000, more than €35,000, and about $1,235 in West African Francs (an interesting monetary union, that).

The worst news for this couple is that there is a very clear presumption that the money was hidden because the money was not just in several envelopes, but within the luggage inside pant and suit pockets, and on the woman’s body.

At Dulles airport, that means it’s bulk cash smuggling. And bulk cash smuggling at Dulles airport means that if you get any money back (by proving legitimate source and intended use), you lose about half of it as a penalty.

Here is the full story from CBP Dulles:

STERLING, Virginia — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $57,000 in unreported currency from a Benin couple Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The couple, who arrived on a flight from Belgium, initially told CBP officers that they possessed less than $10,000. After officers advised them of U.S. currency reporting laws, the couple reported verbally and in writing that they possessed $9,500 and 19,000 euros.

During an examination, CBP officers discovered $15,765 in U.S. dollars, 36,095 euros and 722,000 West African francs for a combined equivalent of $56,985 in U.S. dollars.  Officers discovered the currency in several envelopes, inside pants and suit pockets within their luggage, and during a patdown of the female traveler.

It is 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.

“Customs and Border Protection officers know that concealed bulk currency is oftentimes proceeds from alleged illicit activity and is used to fund transnational criminal organizations,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore. “This currency seizure reflects CBP’s continuing commitment to enforce all U.S. laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”

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

CBP officers seized the currency. Officers then returned the 722,000 West African francs, equivalent to about $1,240, to the couple for humanitarian relief, and released the couple to continue their visit.

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/dulles-cbp-seizes-nearly-57k-unreported-currency-benin-travelers
CBP officer revealing $27,500 concealed in a traveler's backpack, seized for bulk cash smuggling and not reporting

Dulles CBP Seizes $53k in Cash

Dulles does it again, seizing $53,000 from two different people at the time they left the United States.  

In one incident, when stopped before leaving on a plane from the United States to Cameroon, a man reported having $26,000, but was found to have $36,668. 

In the other incident, a man and his family were leaving for Sudan. They reported having $11,000, but in fact, they had $16,500.

In the first instance, the presence of “six envelopes” tells me that this man was probably carrying money back to Cameroon for other people, probably to help family members suffering Cameroon’s civil war.  If that was the case, there’s probably a good chance he wasn’t told exactly how much was in the envelopes, leading to his under-report of the money.

In the second instance, the fact that the family was traveling together tells me that — as almost always happens in my client’s cash seizure cases — someone did not count all their money, or did not consider some part of money to be required to be reported (i.e., an adult daughter traveling with a few extra thousand dollars of her own, not thinking she needed to report her money as part of the group because she’s an adult). These situations can be messy; sometimes money should be reported, sometimes not; it ends up being the word of the violator against the word of the CBP officer who seized the cash.

In each case, though, once someone is boarding the plane and has not already voluntary made the report to CBP, a violation of the reporting requirements of 31 USC 5316 have already occurred. So whether the report was accurate or not is technically not important: by having to be prompted to report currency by a CBP officer while boarding a plane, you are as good as caught, because you obviously have the intention to not report the money in the small physical space between the ticket counter and the gangway.

Here’s the full story:

STERLING, Virginia — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $53,000 during two outbound currency examinations Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

CBP is not releasing the travelers’ names because none were criminally charged.

While inspecting passengers boarding a flight to Belgium, CBP officers seized $35,688 from a Cameroon man who reported that he possessed $26,000. Officers discovered a combined $27,500 in six envelopes in a backpack, and an additional $7,500 in the man’s carry-on bag. Officers retained $34,000 and released $1,688 to the man for humanitarian purpose.  

While inspecting passengers boarding a later flight to Turkey, CBP officers seized $17,122 from a U.S. family bound for Sudan. The family reported that they possessed $11,000. Officers retained $16,500 and released $621 to the family for humanitarian purpose.

In both cases, the passengers were released to continue their travel.

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 travelers to be completely honest when reporting all their currency during an inspection with a CBP officer, or they may incur civil or criminal penalties,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore.  “CBP officers conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S., and to intercept potentially illicit proceeds that support transnational criminal organizations.”

https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/dulles-cbp-seizes-53k-unreported-currency-two-departing-sets-travelers

Undeclared and smuggled currency sewn into the lining of under was seized by U.S. Customs at Boston Logan Airport

CBP Seizes Cash Hid in Underwear in Boston

After handling nearly 300 incidents of cash seizures by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, very little surprises me. So, it comes as no surprise to me at Boston Logan Airport, CBP discovered almost $5,000 sewn into the lining of a woman’s underwear.

The $5,000 they found in her underwear was part of a larger amount being transported; almost $27,000 in all. The story says law the cash was seized for a failure to report, but this is also a textbook case of bulk cash smuggling.

Likewise, the story does not say if either of the couple was criminally charged. Criminal charges for bulk cash smuggling, and failure to report cash to CBP, is possible. Here’s the full story:

BOSTON. — On November 8, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers at Logan International Airport discovered $4,900 in undeclared currency sewn inside an Indonesian national’s underwear.

The female passenger arrived with her 63 year-old husband on a flight from Doha, Qatar. During a secondary examination the couple was asked to declare any currency and stated they had approximately $12,000. A patdown and search of possessions by CBP Officers discovered $4,900 sewn into the 63 year-old female passenger’s underwear. The search also uncovered more than $20,000 in US currency and $2,000 in Canadian currency in the couple’s possession.  In total, CBP seized nearly $27,000 in undeclared currency from the two travelers.

“This situation is a reminder that passenger’s should be forthcoming with our Officers,” said Area Port Director Linda K. Brown.  “CBP Officers are highly skilled individuals and are committed to enforcing the laws of the United States at all our ports of entry.”

The undeclared currency was seized pursuant to Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5317 for violation of Title 31, U.S. Code, Section 5316, failing to declare over $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments.

A few months back we posted a video showing some more real-life customs cash seizures at Boston Logan Airport. Go check it out.

Have you had cash seized at Boston Logan airport?

If you’ve had cash seized at Boston Logan airport, 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.