The travel restrictions in the United States due to coronavirus have severely limited travel, resulting in a decrease in CBP cash seizure activity due to decreased volume of travel. This is particularly true of air travel, and even the U.S Canada Border. However, that’s not as true at the southern border which is not hit as hard as the northern part of the country (especially Michigan and Chicago, where our offices are located).
In January, CBP reported on two cases where travelers’ from Mexico had money seized totaling about $32,000. The money was seized for cash structuring violations in both cases, which can result in increased penalties if legitimate source and intended use of the seized cash is proven.
The total amount seized from the travelers reached more than $32,000. This currency was seized at San Antonio International Airport CBP officers seized $17,200 in unreported currency when a pair of travelers refused to provide a truthful report.
“There is no limit to the amount of currency a traveler can bring in or take out of the U.S.,” said San Antonio Acting CBP Port Director Jose Mendiola. “The only requirement is that travelers must complete a Currency Reporting Form when traveling internationally with currency valued at $10,000 or more.”
According to Mendiola, the currency is not limited to U.S. dollars. “Currency is any monetary instrument including foreign coins, travelers’ checks, and gold. Basically any negotiable instruments whose collective value reaches $10,000 or more.”
Mendiola added that this requirement also applies to passengers travelling together and carrying currency that exceeds $10,000 dollars. When passengers split up the currency amongst themselves to avoid reporting it that is currency structuring.
Currency structuring led to a seizure, Jan. 22, when CBP officers inspected a pair of Global Entry travelers arriving from Mexico. A 60-year-old citizen of Mexico declared $9,915 and his 44-year-old companion, also a Mexican citizen, declared $4,800. Both passengers completed a Customs Declaration Form declaring those amounts. However, when CBP interviewed the pair they admitted that they divided the money before boarding their flight and that the currency belonged to only one passenger. The final amount seized was $14,807. CBP also revoked both travelers’ Global Entry memberships.
Not both of the travelers above last their global entry membership because of their alleged failure to report cash and cash structuring, which is a common practice by CBP. More significantly though is what might happen in the future; permanent loss (forfeiture) of all of the money, or a steep penalty (which could be 50% or more of the total amount seized).
The second seizure occurred Jan. 23, when CBP officers inspected another pair of travelers who arrived from Mexico. These passengers initially claimed to be traveling alone. The 26-year-old Mexican national claimed to be traveling with $9,000 and completed a Customs Declaration Form reporting that amount. CBP officers later encountered a 25-year-old Mexican citizen who declared traveling with $8,200 and signed a Customs Declaration Form reporting that amount. During CBP processing the pair admitted that they had divided the currency before boarding the flight and decided to enter the CBP processing area separately. Total amount seized in this instance was $17,200.
Nationwide, in fiscal year 2019, CBP seized $68,879,080 in currency. Fiscal year 2020 through Jan. 23, currency seizures are at $20,808,879. In the Houston region, which includes San Antonio and Dallas, currency seizures reached over $1M and have increased 54% over the same time last fiscal year.
Has San Antonio CBP seized cash from you?
If San Antion CBP seized cash from you, we urge you not to try to get the money back on your own. You will not be happy with the outcome. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and can contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.