Most of the time when money is seized, it is for a failure to report currency a few related laws, like bulk cash smuggling and unlawful structuring. On occasion, CBP seizes money for other reasons; such as when they suspect the money is tied to a crime other than the failure to report, bulk cash smuggling or unlawful structuring.
The government has broad authority to seize cash, without much cause, if they believe that is connected to illegal activity. In this case, CBP at Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $10,047 for not only the failure to report, but also for violations of:
- 18 USC 1591 (sex trafficking of children)
- 18 USC 1956(c)(7) (laundering of monetary instruments)
Here’s the excerpt from forfeiture.gov:
2016380700073901-001-0000, Seized on 04/29/2016; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY; 115; EA; Valued at $10,047.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956(C)(7), 18USC1591, 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)
Sometimes people ask: if I carry more than $10,000 with me and report it to CBP, can Customs seize the money? The answer is YES, if CBP suspects it is still connected to a crime. This is kind of asset forfeiture that has been in the news a lot lately, where on the grounds of very little suspcion law enforcement can seize property that they believe is connected to a crime, however tenuous that connection is.
Occasionally, we get calls from people who’ve had money seized by the DEA or ATF when traveling by car or plane domestically. Occasionally, local police seize the money and pass it along to another federal agency, like CBP. If CBP has seized your cash, give us a call at (734) 855-4999, or contact us through the buttons on this website. If would like more information about responding to a money seizure by CBP for failure to report, bulk cash smuggling, or unlawful structuring, you should read our legal guide to a customs money seizure.