Tag: reporting requirement

CBP in Southern Arizona Seizes $100K In Cash

The currency reporting requirements were designed, in part, to give the government additional abilities to catch people involved in money laundering. Wikipedia, in its article on money laundering, explains that:

Money laundering is the process of concealing the source of large amounts of money that have been gained through illegitimate means. Money evidently gained through crime is “dirty” money, and money that has been “laundered” to appear as if it came from a legitimate source is “clean” money. Money can be laundered by many methods, which vary in complexity and sophistication.

Therefore, it is with great irony that I share with you the following news release from Customs involving a currency seizure resulting from an effort to smuggle money out of the United States and into Mexico by concealing it in a box of laundry detergent.

Nogales, Ariz. —A southern California woman was arrested Saturday for attempting to smuggle $100,000 in unreported U.S. currency into Mexico through the Dennis DeConcini Port.

Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections selected a Honda sedan, driven by Blanca Gabriela Medina, 29, of El Monte, Calif., for further inspection. When officers searched the vehicle, they located 10 packages of U.S. currency hidden in a box of laundry detergent. The vehicle and cash were processed for seizure. Medina was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

And the best part of all, the picture:

CBP Southern Arizona Seizes 100k Cash

 

If you have money seized and receive a notice of seizure, do not decide how to respond to a CAFRA Notice without first consulting an attorney. Any mistake or error in judgment you make can cost you dearly.The Petition process is a legal process. The petition itself is and should always be a legal document, no different than in any other legal proceeding, that contains detailed factual narrative, what led to the seizure, a review of the relevant law, regulations and Custom’s own guidelines concerning the criteria for remission. When the facts allow for it, our Petition will always include a strong argument for return of the money in full, or even when there is a valid basis for the currency seizure, a strong argument for the money to be returned upon payment of a fine in the smallest amount of money possible, rather than forfeiture of all your money.

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

CBP Currency Seizures in Philadelphia for Violations of the Currency Reporting Regulations

CBP in Philadelphia has really stepped up their news releases concerning currency seizures.  Recently, there is a new release which I quote in part below. The Port in Philadelphia always gives us the most detail in the currency seizures, making it ripe for my commentary. Thus, I have put my own emphasis in bold lettering and my comments in [brackets].

A U.S. woman learned a very difficult lesson Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $39,570 that she failed to truthfully report to officers.

The woman, who was not criminally charged [though she could have been, as I write about here], arrived from Portugal with a Portuguese friend. Both women were referred to a secondary examination after both reported possessing more than $10,000 in currency [note that though both reported over $10,000, the report still must be accurate] – the U.S. woman claimed $30,620; the Portuguese woman $20,700. During the secondary examination, CBP officers learned that $40,570 of the combined $51,320 belonged to the U.S. woman [which is a structuring violation if the money was given to her travelling companion to avoid the reporting requirement]. CBP released $1,000 to the U.S. woman for humanitarian purposes and seized the remaining $39,570. Officers advised her how to petition for the seized currency. [And she no doubt is waiting for notice of seizure and election of proceedings form. Read about how to respond to a currency seizure here.]

CBP officers also assessed a $500 mitigated currency reporting penalty to the Portuguese woman. It was one of six currency reporting penalties for a combined $3,500 in penalties that CBP officers assessed to travelers in the two-week period from July 21 to August 4.

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. [Institutionally, perhaps, but the occasional seizing agent no doubt takes some pride in their accomplishments.] However, there are consequences for failing to comply with U.S. laws,” said Allan Martocci, CBP port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “We hope that word of these penalties will compel these and other travelers to be honest with us and to truthfully declare what they are bringing to the U.S.”

The remaining five currency reporting penalties included:

July 29, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 37-year-old Nigerian man who reported $8,500, but officers discovered that he possessed $11,400.
July 27, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 76-year-old Nigerian man who reported $5,000, but officers discovered that he possessed $11,622.
July 26, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 53-year-old Italian man who reported $7,000 in U.S. dollars, 250 Euros and 500 British pounds. Officers discovered that the man possessed $10,071 in U.S. dollars, 1,150 Euros and 1,500 British pounds, equivalent to $13,213 in U.S. dollars.
July 23, CBP officers assessed a $1,000 penalty to a 68-year-old Italian man who officers found to have structured $24,644 between himself, his brother and his girlfriend to evade reporting requirements for possessing more than $10,000.
July 21, CBP officers assessed a $500 penalty to a 38-year-old Ghanaian woman who reported $9,000, but officers discovered that she possessed $11,870.
Privacy laws prohibit CBP from releasing their names as no subjects were criminally charged.

CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international passengers and cargo, and searches for terrorist weapons, illicit narcotics, unreported currency, counterfeit merchandise, and prohibited agriculture and other products.

If you have considered your options and decide in you want to hire an lawyer, or have other questions, please contact us by calling (734) 855-4999 or by clicking here – it’s almost never too late to get a lawyer involved. We will be happy to answer any questions you have and explain the process to you.

If you have other questions about currency seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, please read these other articles:

  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. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?

 

$50,000 Currency Seizure at Brownsville Port

We republish below a recent money seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) which was effected in Brownsville, as follows:

On June 13, 2013, CBP officers working outbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville and Matamoros International Bridge came in contact with a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria as it attempted to exit the United States and enter Mexico. The driver, a 24 year-old United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas was referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, a search of the Crown Victoria resulted in the discovery of six packages of bulk U.S. currency [$50,000] hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the 50k Currency Seizure Brownsville Port currency; the driver has been transferred into the custody of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents for further investigation.

“Persistence and dedication in outbound enforcement inspections are critical to our efforts of keeping undeclared currency form being exported without meeting proper reporting requirements. I commend our CBP officers for an outstanding seizure and arrest in this alleged bulk currency smuggling case,” said Michael Freeman, CBP Port Director, Brownsville.

Little detail is given, but as with we could give the man the benefit of the doubt and presume the legitimate source is the proceeds of a life insurance policy of a beloved family member; and the intended use, perhaps he was paying cash for a nice place in the American ex-pat community of Merida. That’s just my guess, and yes, I have handled stranger cases. Maye he was just hiding the money (also called smugglingto protect it from imagined theieves as he crosses the border into Mexico.

If we assume he proves these two things, then this situation is regrettable for him and completely avoidable. But now, even if criminal charges are ultimately not filed or if he is ultimately found not guilty of a crime, he will still face civil forfeiture of the money and, if he wants it back, will have to fight for its return administratively, or in the courts.

That brings me to the next point: If you have had currency seized from Customs, do not go it alone. Get the advice of an attorney who knows what he is doing. If you do not, you might only make the situation worse by handling it on your own or hiring a lawyer who doesn’t regularly handle these cases.

If you have other questions about currency seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, please read these other articles:

  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. Responding to a Customs currency seizure
  8. How do I get my seized money back?

If you have considered your options and decide in you want to hire an lawyer, or have other questions, please contact us by clicking here – it’s almost never too late to get a lawyer involved. We will be happy to answer any questions you have and explain the process to you.

Philly CBP Provides On-Site Mitigatation for Reporting Violation after Currency Seizure

Coming out of the Philadelphia airport, CBP has another news release dealing this time with a currency seizure based on a structuring violation and failure to report by U.S. Customs and Border Protection :

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Philadelphia International Airport assessed a $1,000 penalty to an Italian citizen Tuesday for violating federal currency reporting requirements. During a secondary inspection, the man, who arrived from Italy, reported possessing $11,700. It was later discovered that the man had given money to two co-travelers in order to evade currency reporting requirements, an illegal practice known as currency structuring. In total the cash added up to $24,644. CBP officers seized the money, issued the man a $1,000 penalty, and then returned the remaining cash back to the man.

[ . . . ]

“Customs and Border Protection officers offer travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report their currency, but those who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements face severe consequences, such as hefty penalties, having their currency seized, or potential criminal charges,” said Allan Martocci, port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “The easiest way to keep your currency is to truthfully report it.”

International travelers who arrive or depart the United States in possession of more than $10,000 or equivalent foreign currency are required to report all currency to CBP officers and complete a Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) form.

So Customs’ determined that man was in transporting $24,644, but he had given $12,944 to two people with whom he was traveling. As explained in the article linked above, it is illegal to structuring a transaction to avoid filing the currency reporting requirement. From the facts as narrated, it almost looks as though the man did voluntarily report traveling with more than $10,000 ($11,700), but mis-reported the amount by failing to disclose the remaining $12,994 that his “co-travelers” were carrying. I think that the argument could be made that there was no structuring violation if he did file the report; just a violation to accurately report the amount of money that was being transported. That’s a tricky, technical argument to make, though. Never put yourself in that situation.

On the bright side for this individual, he was able to get his money back on the scene – he did not have to go through the petition process, and its inherent delays, to get the seized money back. As far as I am aware, on-scene mitigation is only available to those persons who are transporting less than $25,000, and who mis-report an amount that is 5% or less in variance with the actual amount being transported. I am not sure how this case qualified for on-scene mitigation because the mis-report was greater than 5%, but this gentleman should consider himself lucky.

If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999.

Customs Seizes Money Smuggled in Gas Tank

Although this case is definitely outside the realm of your average failure to report currency in excess of $10,000, I always find these types of smuggling cases interesting because they show the great lengths and cleverness that people will go when smuggling. It also shows that great talent of the men and women (and their trained dogs) of U.S. Customs & Border Protection in detecting smugglers and smuggled property.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”) reports another currency seizure at the U.S.-Mexico border, as follows:

Calexico, Calif. — U.S. law enforcement officials in Calexico, Calif. found more than $750,000 cash hidden in a gas tank Monday, in a vehicle headed into Mexico.

At about 10 a.m., U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, together with members of the Imperial Valley Border Enforcement Security Task Force, were conducting inspections of vehicles in the U.S. headed south into Mexico at the downtown Calexico port of entry.

Officers targeted a silver 2005 Honda Accord, driven by a 24-year-old female U.S. citizen, for inspection.

A CBP officer with a currency/firearms detector dog screened the vehicle, and the canine alerted to the gas tank area.

Officials found 42 packages of unreported U.S. currency, vacuum sealed in clear plastic bags, floating within the gas tank. The currency totaled $762,930. Officials also found another $221 in U.S. currency on the driver.

CBP officers seized the currency and the vehicle, and turned the driver over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents with the Imperial Valley Border Enforcement Security Task Force. The San Diego U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute the driver.

Yes, that’s right, over three-quarters of a million dollars floating in bags in an automobile’s gas tank. And the dog still smelled it.

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Man’s Money Seized by Customs Trying to Smuggle Out of U.S.

According to a recent news release, Customs intercepted an alleged outbound currency smuggling attempt in Arizona:

A local man was arrested yesterday for attempting to smuggle $50,000 in unreported U.S. currency into Mexico through the Port of Nogales.

Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents conducting outbound inspections at the Dennis DeConcini Port referred Rene Becerra-Portillo Jr., 22, of Rio Rico, Ariz., for further questioning. During the subsequent search of the man who was wearing a uniform from a local fast food restaurant and carrying a bag and drink, $50,000 of unreported currency was found inside the bag. The cash was processed for seizure. Becerra was referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

The seized money was in a fast food bag, and he was wearing a uniform for a fast food joint. The variety of different means smugglers use always impresses me.

If you have money seized and receive a notice of seizure, do not decide how to respond to a CAFRA Notice without first consulting an attorney. Any mistake or error in judgment you make can cost you dearly. The Petition process is a legal process. The petition itself is and should always be a legal document, no different than in any other legal proceeding, that contains detailed factual narrative, what led to the seizure, a review of the relevant law, regulations and Custom’s own guidelines concerning the criteria for remission. When the facts allow for it, our Petition will always include a strong argument for return of the money in full, or even when there is a valid basis for the currency seizure, a strong argument for the money to be returned upon payment of a fine in the smallest amount of money possible, rather than forfeiture of all your money.

 

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Read about responding to a customs currency seizure.

$25K Currency Seizure at Philadelphia International Airport

This is the second such story from Philadephia about Russian’s and the Philadelphia airport, the first one I commented on here. CBP releases this news with my emphasis in bold:

Philadelphia – Failing to truthfully declare items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agriculture specialists at Philadelphia International Airport proved to be expensive lessons for several travelers during a busy weekend.

CBP officers seized $25,720 from a Russian citizen Friday, and assessed a mitigated $1,000 penalty to a U.S. citizen Sunday who each violated federal currency reporting requirements, [ . . . . ]

“The events of this weekend represent just a simple snapshot into what U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees do at our nation’s 330 ports of entry every day to ensure respect for established U.S. laws, and to protect our citizens, our economy and our nation,” said Paul Nardella, acting CBP port director for the area port of Philadelphia. “The one thing that we ask is for travelers be honest with us and truthfully declare what they are bringing to the U.S.”

The Russian man first reported that he possessed $9,000 during a routine inspection Friday. He then amended that amount to $19,000 after CBP officers advised him that currency reporting requirement also covered personal and travelers checks. CBP officers then discovered a total of $27,448 during a baggage examination. The currency consisted of $17,220 in U.S. dollars, $250 in Australian dollars (equivalent to $228 USD) and a $10,000 personal check. CBP officers seized $15,720 in U.S. dollars and the check, and released the remainder to the traveler for humanitarian purposes. Officers also advised the traveler the process for petitioning for his currency, and then released him to continue his visit.

CBP officers assessed the mitigated $1,000 penalty Sunday after they discovered $17,579.43 in U.S. dollars and equivalent foreign currency during a baggage inspection. The U.S. man initially reported $4,000 in U.S. dollars and $4000 in Euros.

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

[ . . . ]

CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international passengers and cargo, and searches for terrorist weapons, illicit narcotics, unreported currency, counterfeit merchandise, and prohibited agriculture and other products.

 

Do not decide how to respond to a CAFRA Notice without first consulting an attorney. Any mistake or error in judgment you make can cost you dearly. The Petition process is a legal process. The petition itself is and should always be a legal document, no different than in any other legal proceeding, that contains detailed factual narrative, what led to the seizure, a review of the relevant law, regulations and Custom’s own guidelines concerning the criteria for remission. When the facts allow for it, our Petition will always include a strong argument for return of the money in full, or even when there is a valid basis for the currency seizure, a strong argument for the money to be returned upon payment of a fine in the smallest amount of money possible, rather than forfeiture of all your money.

 

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

Read about responding to a customs currency seizure.

Currency Seizures by U.S. Customs Increase on the Holidays

The holidays always seem to be ripe for currency seizures by U.S. Customs & Border Protection because of the increased amount of travel that invariably happens during the holidays. And when I say holidays, I do not mean those national and international holidays, too.

Whether you’re crossing the U.S.-Canadian border to participate in the the holiday festivities with your family, or you’re a Chinese national returning from China with a bagful of red envelopes (hongbao) from surprisingly generous relatives, or simply trying to get some money back to your family in Syria or Egypt who face a grave humanitarian crisis, we can help you get your seized money returned to you. If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact pageRead about responding to a customs currency seizure.

So, it is no surprise that there will be an up-tick in currency seizures during this Fourth of July weekend. This news story was released yesterday and occurred on June 30, where CBP Officers Seizure $39,000 in Unreported Funds. It will probably be just the first in a string of currency seizures in the news.

Phoenix, Ariz. — A local man attempted to smuggle $39,100 in unreported U.S. currency into the United States from Angola.

On Sunday afternoon, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport were conducting inspections of arriving passengers on a British Airways flight referred a 67-year-old man for further inspection. During the search of the man’s luggage, officers found envelopes containing the large volume of unreported currency. The cash was processed for seizure.

The man was turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

CBP’s Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation’s ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation’s food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.

We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. Call (734) 855-4999 today.

CBP Seizes $205,500 in Unreported Money

As reported by CBP in a recent news release:

Lukeville, Ariz. – Two Mexican nationals were arrested Monday for attempting to smuggle $205,500 of unreported U.S. currency into Mexico through the port of Lukeville.

Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections selected a 2000 Toyota sedan for a secondary inspection. The vehicle’s occupants [ . . . ] told officers they had nothing to declare. During the inspection, however, officers found 22 bundles of U.S. currency in the vehicle’s panels.

Both individuals were referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The cash and vehicle were seized.

Individuals arrested may be charged by complaint, the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity, which raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent unless and until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Live and learn, and quit smuggling. The vehicle was probably seized under authority of 19 USC 1595a, which allows Customs to seize any conveyance which has been outfitted for the purposes of smuggling (e.g., vehicles with secret compartments, boats with false floors, secret hull compartments, etc.). The money was probably, at least until criminal charges are made, seized for a simple bulk cash smuggling and/or failure to report the transportation of more than $10,000 out of the United States.

And while we are on the topic, isn’t this fact pattern a much more obvious case of bulk cash smuggling? The money was concealed in the vehicle’s panels, and there is likely no logical reason why it should be stored there; but, this qualifies for concealment and, as the bulk cash smuggling law is written, so does simply having it stored in your luggage, as explained in previous articles.

If you have had currency seized and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information I make available on this website or call my office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. Read about responding to a customs currency seizure.

We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.

 

$61k CBP Currency Seizure at Washington Dulles

Recently, at Washington’s Dulles Airport, CBP seized over $60,000 that was mis-reported to Customs by a Gambian national and concealed in his baggage:

On Saturday, CBP officers and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) discovered $64,770 in U.S. dollars that the Gambian man had concealed throughout his possessions. The man initially reported to two CBP officers separately that he did not possess more than $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency. After CBP explained the currency reporting requirements, the man then reported that he possessed no more than $14,000. After an initial baggage examination revealed $44,750, the man completed a U.S. Treasury currency reporting form reporting $44,750. A subsequent examination of a carry case revealed an additional $20,000. CBP seized $61,770, released $3,000 to the man for humanitarian purposes, and then released him.

So, our Gambian friend in this story has made several mistakes. First, he no doubt put on his traveler’s declaration form that he was not in possession of more than $10,000. Second, when orally asked by CBP to confirm or deny that fact, he denied it, which was apparently false. Third, when he finally decided to declare possession of more than $10,000, he only declared $14,000, despite having an additional $50,000 with him. Fourth, CBP could probably charge him for bulk cash smuggling because the money was apparently concealed from the view of CBP within his baggage.

Basically, any one of these constitutes a failure to report; however, in my experience (despite some occasional abuses) Customs does give traveler’s an opportunity to amend their currency report and properly declare their money. The law is clear, though, all of the currency or monetary instruments is subject to seizure, even the amount that was reported. So in this case, even though $14,000 was eventually reported, the entirety of the money gets seized — not just the amount over and above the $14,000. This mistaken belief sometimes gets people into trouble.

If you have had currency seized and are wondering how to proceed, please make use of the other information we make available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 or e-mail us through our contact page. We are able to assist with currency seizures around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit.