Tag: presidio

Currency bundles wrapped in black tape were hidden within the tailgate of the truck. The cash was seized by CBP.

Customs Confiscates $170k Cash from Truck Tailgate

In Texas recently, the CBP seized a lot of cash that was hidden inside the tailgate of a pick-up truck that was being driven into Mexico.

That last line of the story is ever-present in cash seizure news releases, but gives the wrong impression. What do you supposed would happen if the driver reported the money in this case?

“Excuse me, officer, I would like a FinCen 105 because I have to report some money; I’ve got $170,000 stored in my tailgate.”

If you’ve got $170,000 stored in your tailgate, surely you’re up to no good. And even if you report the money as required by 31 USC 5316, the officers are probably still going to seize the money for other alleged criminal activity, like money laundering, drug trafficking, etc.

Here’s the text of the story, enjoy!

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $170,030 Saturday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the tailgate of a pick-up truck.

CBP officers were conducting an outbound operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 12:50 p.m. a 2018 Nissan Titan pick-up driven by a 48-year-old U.S. citizen, accompanied by a 23-year-old Mexican citizen passenger approached the inspection area. Further inspection of the vehicle revealed currency bundles wrapped in black tape hidden within the tailgate of the truck.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver and passenger to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

“CBP officers are working hard to stop the illegal movement of guns, ammunition and unreported currency,” said Michael Neipert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Presidio port director. “Travelers who do not follow federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency and may potentially face criminal charges.”

A overhead shot $43,000 mostly in $20 bills that was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection protection heading outbound to Mexico.

CBP Seized Hidden Cash from US Citizen in Texas

The CBP news release feed has been full of news about various enforcement actions on the immigration side of its mission, but with fewer news releases about currency reporting enforcement. Of course, there was the story about the smuggling of horse meat from Mongolia a few days ago.

There has not been much news about currency seizures, although we have noticed no downturn in cash seizure activity on the part of CBP…. but then CBP released this story out of Presidio, Texas, which is your run-of-the-mill bulk cash smuggling seizure that occurs at our border with Mexico.

PRESIDIO, Texas – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $43,514 Tuesday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the center console and air manifold of a pick-up truck.

CBP officers were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Presidio crossing when at approximately 5:25 p.m. a 2010 Ford F-150 pick-up driven by a 27-year-old U.S. citizen from Andrews, Texas, approached the checkpoint. The driver and vehicle were selected for an intensive inspection. During inspection of the vehicle the officers noticed anomalies in the appearance of the vehicle. Inspection of the center console revealed currency bundles wrapped in plastic bags hidden within. Further inspection of the vehicle led to more bundles hidden in the air filter housing and side dashboard panel. A total of nine bundles were removed from the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver to ICE HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt. He was arrested and federal prosecution accepted.

“CBP officers are working hard to stop the illegal movement of guns, ammunition and unreported currency,” said Michael Neipert, CBP Presidio port director “Travelers who do not follow federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of losing their currency and may potentially face criminal charges.”

I am impressed that this was called what it was: a bulk cash smuggling seizure. As I’ve pointed out in the past, CBP often calls these failures to report cash; technically true, but not the most accurate name them.

Loss of Cash to Texas CBP via Notice of Forfeiture & Intent to Seize

Losing cash to Texas CBP

In the context of negotiation to get some of my client’s seized cash returned from CBP, I once had a conversation with a Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures officer. I remarked that I couldn’t believe how much money people lost to CBP through cash seizures. Without hesitation, he replied “I can’t believe how much money people don’t try to get back from CBP.”

So in consideration of people about to lose some cash to CBP, let’s have a look at some money seizures by CBP in Texas that are on the verge of being forfeited (that is, lost forever to the government). All of this information is courtesy of www.forfeiture.gov, and spans cash seizure notices of seizure and intent to forefeit for April 22 and April 29.

First up, Houston:

HOUSTON, TX
2016530100037301-001-0000, Seized on 04/14/2016; At the port of HOUSTON, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 1; EA;
Valued at $333,485.00; For violation of 31USC5317/5316

A whopping $333,485 was seized in Houston, Texas, for a simply failing to report it. Houston is one of the ports where I’ve heard that Customs can be pretty fair in giving people plenty of opportunity to make the cash report. Next up, Presidio/El Paso, Texas:

EL PASO, TX
2016240300008401-001-0000, Seized on 02/17/2016; At the port of PRESIDIO, TX; U.S. CURRENCY; 4,907; EA; Valued at $138,209.00; For violation of 31USC5332(A),31USC5332(C),31USC5316,31USC5317

This is more than just a failure to report — the reference to 31 USC 5332 means that it is also seized for bulk cash smuggling, which likewise means that a greater amount of money is subject to forfeiture by CBP. In addition, because just below this entry and bearing the same case number is a 2004 Ford F150 truck, we can safely assume that this $138,209 was concealed within the the truck.

The last entry, for Laredo, Texas, is more puzzling:

LAREDO, TX
2016231000003901-001-0000, Seized on 04/02/2016; At the port of ROMA, $3,200.00; For violation of 31USC5317,31USC5316,31USC5324

The cash reporting requirement only applies to amounts of money being transported in excess of $10,000, but this entry indicates that $3,200 was seized for both a failure to report and a structuring violation. But you can’t violate the cash reporting law by transporting less than $10,000. So how is it that CBP is forfeiting $3,200?

Well, it’s possible it was some small part of a structuring transaction; but in that case, I would expect to see another entry with the same case number of seizure date the brings the amount to over $10,000. It’s also possible that the person only transported $3,200 because they did not want to have to report traveling with more than $10,000. More likely (in terms of a structuring violation), would be that there was a sequence of transactions of moving money across the border and, when they were all added up and CBP got wind of the structuring plot, they seized this last bit of $3,200. If you don’t understand that, you haven’t read our article on cash structuring to avoid the reporting requirement.

Have you lost cash to CBP through a money seizure?

A loss of cash to CBP through seizure is a traumatic experience. If the money has not already been forfeited, there are some good chances to get it back if you know what you’re doing. Our customs law firms knows what it’s doing. 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.

A picture of nearly $150,000 in cash seized by CBP laid out on a table

Timid Smuggler Has Cash Seized by CBP

Here is another story about cash seized by CBP. In this case, the amount seized is almost $150,000. CBP made the seizure after a timid smuggler began acting suspicious.

Noting the suspicious behavior of not crossing the border but retreating to a nearby parking lot, CBP sent HSI agents pursued the vehicle and escorted it back to the border where an examination found vacuum sealed packages containing the cash. Of course, the cash was seized by CBP. Most likely under the bulk cash smuggling law.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Presidio port of entry seized $138,209 Wednesday afternoon. The money was discovered hidden in the dash area of a pick-up truck.

At approximately 12 p.m. CBP officers were conducting a southbound inspection operation at the Presidio crossing when a 2004 Ford F-150 pick-up driven by a male was observed approaching the southbound inspection area. The vehicle stopped, immediately turned around and pulled into a parking lot in front of the inspection area. After a few minutes the vehicle pulled out of the parking lot driving away from the port of entry. Homeland security investigation agents were immediately notified. The agents intercepted the vehicle at a local convenience store parking lot. The vehicle was escorted back to the port where an intensive inspection resulted in the discovery of six vacuum sealed packages containing U.S. currency.

CBP officers seized the money and vehicle and turned the driver [ . . . ] over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI special agents in connection with the failed smuggling attempt.

Have you had cash seized by CBP?

If you’ve had cash seized by CBP 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.