Tag: penalty

Counterfeit Sunglasses Seized by Customs

Customs made another high value seizure of counterfeit merchandise being imported into the United States with infringing trademarks under 19 USC 1526. Customs seized 377 cartons of “Ron-Bei” sunglasses that they allege infringe the “Ray-Ban” trademark. This would be a good seizure and penalty case for our customs lawyer to defend, because it’s arguable whether the goods are counterfeit. The manufacturer’s suggest retail price, if the counterfeits were genuine, is $1,619.550. That is what the penalty amount will be calculated from.

We previously discussed, in a two article series, the dangers of importing counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States, how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and how the importer can defend it. This story underscores the importance of everything we discussed in those articles: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2  (click to read). 

Let’s have a look at the story (original HERE):

Counterfeit Sunglasses Seized By Customs
Counterfeit sunglasses with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,619,550 seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port of Savannah.

CBP officers discovered the shipment of sunglasses in a container that was selected for examination. During the inspection, officers discovered that the items bore a similar trademark to the Ray Ban Sunglasses logo. The items contained logos and similarities on the hang tags and the sunglasses that infringes Ray Ban’s trademark.

Ray Ban is an international company owned by Luxottica Group S.P.A. Luxottica Group is a manufacturer of eyewear with more than 7,100 optical and sun retail stores in North America, Asia-Pacific, China, South Africa, Latin America and Europe. In addition to a global wholesale network involving 130 different countries, the Group manages leading retail chains in major markets in North America, Asia, China, and Latin America.

CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive Intellectual Property Rights enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods. Detailed information about recording intellectual property rights and reporting intellectual property infringement to CBP can be found on the CBP website.

Whoever wrote up this news release for customs should get a little money from Ray Ban for the free product pitch in the middle paragraph. Importing counterfeit items into the United States is a very serious matter. First, it is very likely that after seizure the property will be forfeited and destroyed by the U.S. government if, in fact, they are violative of the trademark laws.

Once forfeiture is perfected, the person who caused the importation will probably get a notice of penalty from U.S. Custom & Border Protection in the mail for the equivalent of the value of the products if they were real. The importer will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely. If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government can bring a lawsuit in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

Customs Wood Packaging Material Violations In The News Again

Wood Packaging Material violations and penalties should be something you don’t hear about in the news anymore. But WPM violations and the penalties that come with them, still rear their head everyone once in a while. We authored an article on everything you need to know about Regulated Wood Packaging Material violations and penalties, which discussed the elements of a violation, possible resolutions for the importer who is facing re-export of WPM, and notice of penalty for importations contrary to law for WPM violations.

The reason this should be something that don’t hear about anymore is because the restrictions on WPM have been in place since 2005… the trade community was given ample time to comply. Yet still, almost 10 years

WPM Mark
WPM Mark

later, customs released a C-TPAT alert for non-compliant wood packaging material violations. The whole alert is HERE, but I quote some parts below:

The purpose of this C-TPAT Alert is to inform all C-TPAT Partners, particularly its sea carriers, of recent interceptions of non-compliant wood packing material (WPM) used in flat rack cargo carried by ocean vessels traversing the Mediterranean.

WPM is defined as wood or wood products (excluding paper products) used in supporting, protecting, or carrying a commodity. Some examples of WPM include: bins, cases, cratings, reels, load boards, boxes, containers, pallets, skids, dunnage and crates. Snails and other pests may infest non-compliant wood packing material. These pests are regulated under the Federal Plant Protection Act. Snail

infestations of WPM is just an example of a threat that targets the world’s agriculture and the Nation’ food supply. With the ever increasing amount of trade, the threat to U.S. crops and livestock is real.

The commodities with the highest incidence of WPM pests include: manifested WPM; machinery (including auto parts); metal products; and stone products (including tile).
Other high risk commodities include electronics and electronic components, finished wood articles, plant products and foodstuffs.

Please read our article including everything you need to know about WPM violations by CLICKING HERE.

If you have been informed that you wood packaging material is in violation of the law and needs to be re-exported, immediately call or e-mail office at (734) 855-4999 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.

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.

Never pay full price in a penalty proceeding!

 

Customs Counterfeit Seizures; Counterfeit Guitars

Back in May, Customs made a large seizure of counterfeit guitars in Jersey City. We previously discussed, in a two article series, the dangers of importing counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States; how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and how the importer can defend it. It also happens that this story deals with false country of origin marking on imported merchandise.

This story underscores the importance of everything we discussed in those articles: Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1 and Part 2 and Importing Grey Market Goods (click to read). You should also review the articles we have published on country of origin marking, available Country of Origin Marking Requirements and Customs Country of Origin and Substantial Transformation. The story is below, with my emphasis in bold:

Jersey City, N.J. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the International and Counterfeit guitars seized in Jersey CityBulk Mail Center in Jersey City, N.J. discovered more than 185 counterfeit guitars with an estimated retail value of more than $1,000,000.

While examining oversize parcels, CBP officers discovered five guitars bearing the Gibson, Les Paul, Paul Reed Smith, and Martin trademarks, as well as the marking “Made in USA.”  The officers immediately suspected the guitars of being counterfeit based on the Counterfeit Guitar Seizurescountry of origin, poor craftsmanship, and packaging.

CBP has since identified more than 180 counterfeit guitars bearing additional trademarks of Epiphone, Fender, Taylor, and Ernie Ball—all being shipped through the same facility. Officers discovered business cards within the packaging, all referring to the same website. The website indicated these guitars could be purchased from China for about $200 to $500; but the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for authentic guitars range anywhere from $2,000 for basic models to $54,000 for signature models. The guitars were seized by officers and are scheduled for destruction.

“CBP is on the forefront of protecting the American economy and trademark holders. Counterfeit goods pose a serious threat to the consumer and economic loss to American business,” said Robert E. Perez, director of CBP’s New York Field Operations. “Enforcing intellectual property rights (IPR) remains a priority for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program.

Information about internet purchases is available. Additional information on CBP’s IPR enforcement efforts can be found at CBP IPR.

Notice how the false country of origin marking may have raised the suspicions of customs and caused them to investigate the legitimacy of trademark further. Trouble never travels alone. You should read about your liability for customs violations for things you purchase on the Internet.

If you have merchandise seized by customs and either lose your opportunity to get the merchandise back, abandon the merchandise, or ignore the notice of seizure, it may not be the end of trouble for the importer. In general, customs has the authority to fine or penalize anyone who violates the laws enforced by customs. This means that, weeks or months after the property is seized and forfeited, you may get notice of penalty in the mail from customs that demands payment of thousands of dollars in penalties! It could also mean you get a letter from the trademark holder threatening you with further legal action.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

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.

Counterfeit DVD Seizure by Philly Customs

Customs recently seized some counterfeit merchandise being imported through the port of Philadelphia. Yesterday, we began the first part of our series on what happens when a person or business imports counterfeit merchandise into the United States (please read the article, but I’ll give you a hint: it’s not good). As this customs news release points out, the reasons why customs seizes counterfeit merchandise is often more than just to protect the U.S. trademark holder, but because counterfeit products are often of lower quality and could cause serious harm to the consumers who use them. Read the article below with my own notes written in bold for a play-by-play of how the process of this seizure of counterfeit merchandise plays out.

PHILADELPHIA – The unofficial start to summer arrives in about two weeks, and as is customary, people are feverishly working on sculpting and toning their summer physique. Unfortunately, disreputable organizations know this too, and they prey on that motivation to sell under priced and potentially dangerous counterfeit exercise equipment and technology.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Philadelphia recently seized 36 boxes of counterfeit BeachBody Focus T25 DVDs, and 12 boxes of counterfeit BeachBody P90X3 DVDs, worth an estimated $5,800 MSRP. [NOTE: As we will see in Part 2 of our series on counterfeit trademark customs seizures, MSRP is important when it comes to calculating the penalty the customs will issue to the importer].

The counterfeit DVDs arrived from Hong Kong in two separate shipments and were destined for two addresses in Philadelphia. CBP officers examined the shipments and detained them April 1 to determine their authenticity with the trademark holder, BeachBody. [NOTE: Customs contacts the trademark holder prior to formally detaining the merchandise to determine if the product is truly a counterfeit.]
Customs Counterfeit DVD SeizurePhiladelphia CBP seized two parcels of BeachBody exercise DVS April 25, 2014.CBP simultaneously worked with the importer and broker to obtain specific authorization from the trademark holder permitting it to import BeachBody products. Neither was able to provide an authorization letter from BeachBody. [NOTE: If the importer has the consent of the trademark holder to import counterfeit merchandise, or if it can obtain permission from the trademark holder prior to forfeiture, it’s possible to get the counterfeits released from seizure].

BeachBody confirmed that the products were counterfeit. CBP seized both shipments April 25 for a violation of 19 USC 1526, Merchandise Bearing and American Trademark. [NOTE: The importer will receive a notice of seizure by mail, with the opportunity to respond by, among other things, filing a petition for remission].

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection urges consumers to be especially vigilant against purchasing suspected counterfeit technology products that may have a hidden, embedded virus that can steal your personal information, wipe your hard drive clean, or destroy your electronic devices,” said Susan Stranieri, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “If the price seems too good to be true, it likely is a counterfeit or pirated item, and is a potentially dangerous product.”

The counterfeit DVDs will be destroyed.

Protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) remains a CBP priority trade issue.

CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods.

The People’s Republic of China, where these DVDs were manufactured, remains the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized by CBP and its primary IPR partner, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In Fiscal Year 2013, 68 percent of all IPR seizures were for goods manufactured in China. The MSRP of those counterfeit goods was valued at approximately $1.1 billion.

In addition to China, CBP and ICE seized counterfeit merchandise from 73 additional economies during FY 2013, including Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

To view counterfeit seizure statistics from 2013, visit CBP’s 2013 IPR enforcement results and CBP’s IPR enforcement for more information on this priority trade enforcement issue.

Inspecting international parcels for dangerous and illicit products remains a CBP enforcement priority.

CBP routinely conducts random inspections operations on passengers and air cargo searching for narcotics, currency, weapons and other prohibited or illicit products.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

Importing Counterfeit Trademarks – Customs Seizures & Penalties; Part 1

Often, people and businesses can knowingly or unknowingly import counterfeit trademark merchandise into the United States. The majority of these types of importations we encounter for clients are Internet purchases from China, such as purses, videos/DVDs, guitars, clothing,  electronics and accessories, but they can really be any type of product and from any country. Sometimes people know the merchandise is counterfeit but other times they do not have any suspicion, or in some circumstances truly know that what they are importing is not counterfeit. Even if ignorant about the merchandise being counterfeit, if it really is counterfeit then the property is still subject to seizure and forfeiture by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

What is a counterfeit or trademark violation?

Counterfeit merchandise is merchandise that “bears a trade-mark owned by [someone in] the United States, and registered in the . . . [Patent and Trademark Office].” The counterfeit mark can be on the “merchandise, or the label, sign, print, package, wrapper, or receptacle” itself. 19 USC 1526(a). A counterfeit mark is a spurious trademark that is identical to, or substantially indistinguishable from, a registered trademark. 19 CFR 133.21(a). If you do not have permission of the trademark owner to import the merchandise, it’s illegal to import it.

Because the counterfeit merchandise is illegal, it is subject to seizure and forfeiture by U.S. Customs & Border Protection under most circumstances (usually it must also be recorded with CBP per 19 CFR 133.21(b)). 19 USC 1526(b) and (e). This means that customs can take the suspected counterfeit merchandise and destroy it, or if they can obliterate the counterfeit marks and get the consent of the trademark owner, then customs can give it to charity, give it to a government agency for its own use, or sell it at public auction.

Is it possible to get the seized merchandise released?

Before customs can destroy the counterfeit/trademark violations, give it away, or sell it, they must first give the importer a chance to respond. Since October 2015, at the time of detention or even after seizure, the importer has a right to request samples of seized merchandise from CBP. After merchandise is seized, Customs through its Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures (FP&F) office, will send a “notice of seizure” of the counterfeit merchandise to the importer of record. The importer then has several options, among those are the ability to file a petition for remission of forfeiture with FP&F. In this petition, the importer has opportunity to demonstrate that there are no counterfeit/trademark violations involved with the import of the merchandise.

Alternatively, the importer could argue in the petition for remission to customs that some exception to seizure and forfeiture applies. If the importer can prove that the goods are not counterfeit, then the seizure would be remitted and the merchandise released to the custody of the importer. A similar result is possible in certain other circumstances, like if they are permitted genuine, gray market goods, or are for personal use and accompanying a traveler entering the U.S., or if the trademark owner consents to the importation and the counterfeit marks are destroyed.

My merchandise was seized and forfeited as counterfeit. Am I in any other trouble?

If you have merchandise seized by customs and either lose your opportunity to get the merchandise back, abandon the merchandise, or ignore the notice of seizure, it may not be the end of trouble for the importer. In general, customs has the authority to fine or penalize anyone who violates the laws enforced by customs. This means that, weeks or months after the property is seized and forfeited, you may get notice of penalty in the mail from customs that demands payment of thousands of dollars in penalties! It could also mean you get a letter from the trademark holder threatening you with further legal action.

In Part 2 of this series, we discuss when and how customs can assess a monetary penalty after the counterfeit property is seized and forfeited.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs because they allege it is counterfeit and contains trademark violations, call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist petitions for customs seizures nationwide.

Customs intellectual property enforcement through product seizures

Customs, like any other organization, sets goals and runs campaigns. In recent years there has been a focus on counterfeits, and products that infringe on trademarks, patents, or other forms of intellectual property. I know some folks who says customs doesn’t do enough in this regard. Nevertheless, touting its recent prowess in stopping a portion of the large amounts  of infringing goods flooding across the border, Customs recently released some news about its efforts for the 2013 fiscal year.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations today announced the comprehensive results of ongoing efforts to protect America from the illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods during Fiscal Year 2013. [ . . . ]

The number of [intellectual property rights] seizures increased nearly 7% from 22,848 in FY 2012 to 24,361 in FY 2013. The [manufacturer’s suggested retail price] of seized goods increased from $1.26 billion in FY 2012 to $1.74 billion in FY 2013 [Editor’s Note: this is the price of the counterfeit goods as if they were not counterfeit]DHS averaged slightly over 66 seizures per day, with an average MSRP of each seizure being slightly more than $71,500.

“Together with our [intellectual property rights] partners, CBP continues to guard the nation’s borders against counterfeit products,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “These products are not only unsafe and dangerous to consumers, but they also pose a threat to the economic security of our country.” 

“These numbers are the result of the hard work of the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security and the increased collaboration of our agencies through the IPR Center,” said ICE’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas S. Winkowski. “But a great deal more has to be done to protect the public from the health and safety threat that counterfeits pose to our society. We will continue to pursue these criminals and educate the public about the real threats that intellectual property crimes pose.”

[ . . . ] Consumers are reminded to remain vigilant when making online purchases. [Editor’s Note: Internet purchasers are responsible for their imports complying with the law!]

[ . . . ] Collaboration through the IPR Center led to 692 arrests, 401 criminal indictments, and 451 criminal convictions for criminal IPR infringement activities in FY 2013.

While the People’s Republic of China remains the primary source economy for counterfeit and pirated goods seized, with a total value of $1.1 billion, representing 68% of all IPR seizures by MSRP in FY 2013, DHS made seizures from 73 additional economies during FY 2013, including Hong Kong, India, Korea, Singapore, and Vietnam.

CBP is committed to seeking global solutions to the global trafficking in counterfeit and pirated goods. Notably, CBP engaged in a joint enforcement operation with China resulting in the removal of 243,000 items trading between the countries, and also concluded joint enforcement operations with France and Germany.

CBP and HSI protect businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods.

More statistical data is available by clicking HERE.

Importing infringing items into the United States is a very serious matter. First, it is very likely that after seizure the property will be forfeited and destroyed by the U.S. government if, in fact, they are infringing on someone’s intellectual property. Once forfeiture is perfected, the person who caused the importation will probably get a notice of penalty from U.S. Custom & Border Protection in the mail based on the maximum penalty the law allows for the type of violation.

The person will have a chance to respond to customs’ notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to reduce the penalty based on the presence of certain mitigating factors that customs particularly looks for. Great Lakes Customs Law has been very successful in getting these kinds of penalties reduced and, sometimes, even eliminated entirely. If the person fails to pay the penalty, the government may bring a lawsuit against them in federal district court to recover the penalty in the form of a judgment, after which point the government can lien property, garnish bank accounts, and seize property.

If you have had money or merchandise seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. Once your merchandise is seized, Customs may issue a penalty for the violation of law itself. If you have received a notice of penalty from U.S. Customs call our office immediately to discuss the possibility of filing a petition to reduce the penalty amount.

We are able to assist petitions and in seizures by customs nationwide.

Border Patrol Agents Seize Over $1.5

Though not exactly the type of customs money seizure that my client’s experience (which usually at a land border crossing or at an airport), nevertheless Customs & Border protection recently issued a news release about some check-point currency seizures that the border patrol wing of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol executed.

San Clemente, Calif. — In two separate events, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested two foreign nationals with large quantities of concealed bulk cash.

The first event occurred Friday at 4:30 p.m., when an Uzbekistan national, who is a permanent U.S. resident, arrived at the San Clemente checkpoint driving a commercial truck. The 27-year-old man was hauling five used cars on a trailer. The man was referred to secondary, where a K-9 performed a cursory inspection resulting in a positive alert. California Army National Guard members, operating an x-ray system, detected anomalies in two Acura MDXs. Agents searched those vehicles and discovered false compartments in their rear bumpers. The compartments were filled with 49 bundles of cash. The bundles contained an approximate total of $1,476,245 in U.S. currency. The cash and two Acuras were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

The second event occurred on Sunday afternoon around 2 p.m., as agents were patrolling I-5. Agents observed a suspicious vehicle travelling southbound and initiated a vehicle stop. The 39-year-old Mexican national driver was holding a valid visa. Agents requested and received permission to search the man’s vehicle. Upon inspection, agents discovered $49,900 inside a black bag and inside the man’s jacket. An additional $10,000 was in the man’s pockets. When questioned, the man stated that the $10K was his, but he did not have a receipt of declaration for bringing the money into the U.S. He claimed that the other $49,900 did not belong to him and that he did not want to be associated with it. The driver is being held in Department of Homeland Security custody with removal proceedings pending. The vehicle and cash were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

If you have had money seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  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

Customs Seizes $19,800 at Border

Customs executed another customs money seizure at a Texas border crossing; this story just doesn’t happen at land borders like our shared border with Canada, but also at international airports. This particular tale of woe concerns a woman who had 3 vacuum sealed packages containing a total of $19,800 — that they were vacuum sealed would most likely indicate to Customs that this was not an inadvertent failure to file a currency and monetary instrument report, but rather an attempt to smuggle money without alerting the drug/currency-sniffing dogs to the presence of the money.

Eagle Pass, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Eagle Pass seized more than $19,000 in undeclared currency Thursday afternoon.

Large amounts of currency may be imported and exported with the proper documentation,” said Cynthia O. Rodriguez, CBP Port Director, Eagle Pass. “Failure to report international transit of $10,000 or more could mean forfeiture of funds and criminal sanctions.Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

Seizing undeclared currency at ports of entry serves to deprive criminal organizations of their profits.”

Shortly after 1 p.m. Thursday, CBP officers at Eagle Pass International Bridge I encountered a pedestrian as she was exiting the United States bound for Mexico. During inspection, officers discovered the woman, a 22-year-old citizen of Mexico, had a large quantity of U.S. currency in her possession. Officers seized three vacuum-sealed packages containing a total of $19,800. The woman was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for federal prosecution.

The reason your currency was seized by customs may be different. The vast majority of my client’s have had their money taken by customs at the airport or at the land borders because of miscommunication, ignorance of the reporting requirement, confusion, fatigue from travel, and other times because of unfair, if not necessarily illegal, enforcement tactics used by customs. If you have had money seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  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

Customs in Philadelphia Seizes $27k in Unreported Currency

Another news release from customs demonstrates why you should make a truthful declaration to customs when carrying over $10,000 to avoid a customs money seizure. In this instance, a husband and wife were travelling together and between each of them, they possessed over $27,000 in various currencies located in different envelopes. After verbally reporting $6,000, he later reported $16,000 in writing. It’s important to remember that the currency declarations and requirement to report travelling with more than $10,000 applies to all currencies, both foreign and domestic.

As with most cases of this type, it involves questions of potential structuring violations (dividing money up between multiple people to avoid the reporting requirement), bulk cash smuggling (customs will often try to say that concealing the currency in anything shows an intent to smuggle, even if it’s just in an envelope in your luggage in different locations). In order to get their money back, they will need to demonstrate a legitimate source and legitimate intended use and they can do this by filing  a petition.

The story:

Philadelphia – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized nearly $27,000 from a Ghana couple Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport after they failed to truthfully report the total currency they possessed.

Neither was criminally charged.

The couple arrived from Germany and was referred to a secondary inspection. The man verbally reported possessing $6,000. After CBP officers explained federal currency reporting requirements, the man then wrote down that he possessed $16,000. During a baggage examination, CBP officers discovered multiple envelopes that contained U.S. currency, British pounds, Swiss francs and Ghana cedi. Officers verified the total currency as $27,431.30. Officers returned $500 to the couple for humanitarian purposes and seized the remaining $26,931.30. Officers released the couple to continue their visit.

There is no limit to how much currency that travelers can bring into, or take out of the United States. Travelers are required to formally report amounts of $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars, equivalent foreign currency, or other monetary instruments.

“CBP derives no great pleasure from seizing travelers’ currency. However, there are consequences for failing to comply with U.S. currency reporting laws,” said Tarance Drafts, acting CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “We hope that all travelers are honest with CBP officers and truthfully declare the total currency they possess or other things that they are bringing from overseas to the U.S.”

If you have had money seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  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