Tag: san juan

Over $500,000 seized by Customs storedi n clear evidence bags

Customs Took $500k Cash at San Juan

There is a lot of cash that passes through the nation’s airports and seaports carried by a lot of people. As we have shown through the years here at this customs cash seizure blog and in our many articles about the procedures for getting back cash taken by Customs, sometimes that money is from illegal and illegitimate sources (i.e., the proceeds of a crime).

In a recent case, Customs in San Juan Puerto Rico confiscated nearly a half million dollars in two separate money seizure incidents. The full story is quoted below, but note these interesting points:

  • $350k was concealed within the rails of 9 suitcases, but the woman only reported carrying $1,600
  • $214k was concealed under the carpet of a cargo van, the male driver reported only carrying $4,000

On to the story:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico¬†‚Äď U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized over $500K in undeclared currency in two separate incidents at the Port of San Juan and the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport.

On Mar. 30, during luggage inspections authorized by federal law, CBP officers found US currency concealed within the rails of nine suitcases.

Rudi Alfonso Hernandez-Simon, 52, a citizen of the Dominican Republic failed to declare accurately having in his possession a total of $353,372. 

Mr. Hernandez-Simon, who also had a carry-on bag and one (1) backpack, declared to be transporting approximately $1,600.  

On Apr. 1, CBP officers inspecting outbound vehicles to be transported onboard the ferry M/V KYDON, bound to Santo Domingo, selected a Ford E-350 cargo vehicle for further examination.

The driver, a legal permanent resident with citizenship from the Dominican Republic, declared being in possession of $4,000. 

A CBP K-9 discovered thirteen (13) packages of US currency concealed under the carpet, between the driver and passenger seats, totaling $214,037. 

‚ÄúTravelers can carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP,‚ÄĚ indicated Edwin Cruz, San Juan Area Port Director.¬† ¬†‚ÄúFailure to report may result in seizure of the currency, penalties and/or arrest.‚ÄĚ

In each incident, CBP seized the currency under failure to declare and bulk cash smuggling laws.   U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents arrested Mr. Hernandez-Simon who appeared before the US District Court in San Juan.  HSI will proceed with an investigation for both cases.

$100 bills wrapped in aluminum foil smuggled in a drum of paint seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection

CBP Seizes Smuggled $390k at San Juan

U.S. Customs & Border Protection seized almost $400,000 USD that was part of a bulk cash smuggling incident in the middle of March at the Port of San Juan, in Puerto Rico.

The story is interesting because of its novelty. The amazing ability of CBP officers do detect when things are “off” is also on display in this story. Basically, a cargo ship was leaving Puerto Rico with two vehicles within it (and presumably, much more other cargo).

The vehicles were inspected, and inside was found 2 “excessively heavy” 55 gallon barrels of liquid paint. Inside the barrels were 72 packages of currency totaling $384,840 dollars.

In a second, apparently related, incident, CBP seized $10,000 that was vacuum packed into an ice tea container, all hidden within a cardboard barrel. Here’s the full story:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico¬†‚Äď U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers seized over $390K concealed inside two vehicles in separate incidents last week in the Port of San Juan.¬†¬†¬†¬†

On Mar. 11, during the boarding process at the ferry M/V Maestro Universe, bound to the City of Santo Domingo, CBP officers inspected two (2) excessively heavy 55 gallon barrels of liquid paint, finding seventy-two (72) packages of unreported currency inside.   The currency amounted to $384,840.

In another cardboard barrel, Officers found a vacuumed pack bag from a Lipton Ice Tea container with $10,000 in 100-dollar bills.

‚ÄúTravelers can carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S. However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP,‚ÄĚ indicated Edwin Cruz, San Juan Area Port Director.¬† ¬†‚ÄúFailure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.‚ÄĚ

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) assumed custody of the seized currency for further investigation. 


The story ends unusually, but not uncommonly, be explaining the travelers can transport more than $10,000 so long as they report the money. However, that warning doesn’t seem to be a factor here — because it was a cargo ship, no one was traveling with the money such that they could have reported in that manner.

U.S. CBP seized cash hidden in a shipping container at the San Juan, Puerto Rico seaport.

CBP Seizes $29,000 Smuggled at San Juan

A few weeks back, CBP announced another recent seizure of unreported cash at the San Juan seaport in a shipment of cargo containers. A customs cash seizure in Puerto Rico also happened back in May. The story makes the same curiously absent identification of the event as being an incident of bulk cash smuggling, not just a failure to report.

In this case, the seizure of cash happened when U.S. Customs & Border Protection offciers were examining cargo containers and discovered some anomalies (presumably when imaging) a 55 gallon drum. The cash was destined for the Dominican Republic, as below:

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ‚Äď U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers from the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET) seized approximately $29,000 in unreported currency in an outbound enforcement action at the San Juan Seaport.

The interception occurred Oct. 21 while CBP officers were examining cargo containers at a CBP facility.  CBP officers conducted an intensive secondary examination of a container and discovered anomalies on a 55 gallon storage drum. Further examination revealed the hidden currency.  The container was destined to the Dominican Republic.

This is interesting because it again demonstrates that the currency reporting law applies equally to the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Have you had cash seized by CBP in Puerto Rico?

If CBP seized your cash in Puerto Rico, you need a lawyer. That’s what we do. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact our customs lawyer for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

U.S. CBP seized cash hidden in a shipping container at the San Juan, Puerto Rico seaport.

CBP Seized Cash in Shipping Container

Not every cash seizure made by U.S. Customs & Border Protection involves a traveler (or a drug mule) carrying cash into or out of the country at a border crossing or one of the many international airports. Sometimes cash is seized at border when it is hidden (smuggled) in mail, packages, or as recently happened in San Juan, Puerto Rico, CBP seized cash in a shipping container.

This isn’t the first time a shipping container has been the home for hundreds of thousands of dollars: see our other stories about CBP Uses Tech to Seize Hidden Cash and Seizure of $325,000 Smuggled leaving Puerto Rico.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ‚Äď U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers conducting outbound cargo operations at the San Juan Seaport seized approximately $415,000 US dollars on Wednesday. The money was found in hidden compartments of an appliance transported inside a cargo container.¬† The cargo was leaving Puerto Rico en route to the Dominican Republic onboard M/V Auto Baltic.

CBP personnel selected the container and its contents for an intensive examination after a preliminary non-intrusive inspection revealed certain anomalies. Subsequently a physical inspection revealed sixty three (63) bundles of hidden US Currency for an amount of $414,980.00 dollars.

Of course after CBP found the money in the container, it was seized. The full story indicates there was a failure to report (true, indeed), but in addition, this best falls under the laws against bulk cash smuggling; that is, when cash is hidden with the intent that it not be reported to government when entering or leaving the United States.

Proving legitimate source and legitimate intended use may be helpful in getting some of this money back. But not necessarily. And incredibly, sometimes people legitimately transfer money like this and avoid it going through typical bank channels. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with importing or exporting cash, so long as it reported and has no nexus to illegal activity.

But now that no report was filed for this movement of cash, it’s been seized. And bulk cash smuggling case are the most difficult to win.

Has CBP seized cash in a shipping container from you?

If CBP seized cash from you in a shipping container 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.

 

X-ray technology was used by A truck passing through an X-ray machine used by CBP to seize hidden cash.

CBP Uses Tech to Seize Hidden Cash

Technology is used by CBP to seize hidden cash. In this case, the technology is an x-ray machine that can scan an entire container.

Sometimes a cash seizure by CBP is clearly connected to illegal activity, like when CBP seizes hidden cash in the body panels of a vehicle driven by a man with a criminal record going into Mexico. Other times customs seizes hidden cash from people who aren’t up to anything illegal (and who have never even got a traffic ticket).

Then there are other times when the intent, or the reason, someone fails to report cash or hides it is not clear. For me, one such time was a story we wrote about one year ago, when CBP seized $325,000 in hidden leaving Puerto Rico in a container, along with some personal effects.

The story below is kind of similar. It is scant on details, but nonetheless interesting. There is nothing stated about what else was inside the container other than half-million dollars seized for bulk cash smuggling, so it is a little different than last year’s story.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ‚ÄĒ U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers stopped an illegal exportation of currency when officers searched a cargo container intended to be shipped to the Dominican Republic on board the Caribbean Fantasy Ferry this past week.

Utilizing high-tech equipment, CBP officers examining outbound containers being loaded to the Caribbean Ferry selected some for further inspection.¬† During the additional inspection, officers discovered $518,980 USD, intended to be smuggled out of the United States. ‚ÄúCustoms and Border Protection remains committed to strengthening our borders.” said Keith McFarquhar, acting San Juan Area Port Director. “The currency seized is not only money lost by organizations that finance drug trafficking and other illegal activity.¬† It is currency that could also supply the weapons and the means for these organizations to disrupt governments and pose threats to our nation.‚ÄĚ]

Has CBP seized hidden cash from you?

If CBP seized hidden cash from 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.

CBP Seizes Hazardous (Lead) Toys in San Juan

We previously explained the risks that come with importing merchandise into the United States; how it can result in seizure, monetary penalties, and some strategies can use to defend itself against those penalties.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of San Juan recently seized hazardous toys in four different shipments which arrived between August and September, 2015, with a combined estimated domestic retail value of over $100K.  The toys were found to contain hazardous substances that could represent a risk for children.

Toys that were seized after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead.
Toys were seized in October 2015, after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead.

Working closely with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) compliance investigators, CBP officials detained several shipments of toys from China on 4 separate incidents between the months of August and September of 2015.  All of the toys were seized in October 2015, after CPSC laboratory analysis determined that they contained lead in excess of the limit which may be harmful to the health and safety of children.

Children’s products, including toys, which are designed or intended primarily for use by children 12 years of age or younger, must not contain a concentration of lead greater than 0.009 percent (90 parts per million) in paint or any similar surface coatings.

‚ÄúImport safety is a priority trade issue for CBP,‚ÄĚ stated Edward Ryan, San Juan Assistant Director of Field Operations in the area of Trade.¬† ‚ÄúOur agency works with CPSC as well as nearly 50 other government agencies to enforce U.S. import regulations and to stop unsafe and illicit goods from entering the country.‚ÄĚ

Importing hazardous 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. Once forfeiture is complete, the person who caused the importation may get a notice of penalty or liquidated damages from U.S. Custom & Border Protection for importations contrary to law.

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 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.

3 Currency Seizures Net CBP $74,500

CBP seized almost $75,000 in cash during 3 separate incidents at the port in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Twoof the incidents described below state that the money was “hidden” — first “within a suitcase” and “hidden in separate places on his belongings,” and the story says all currency was seized for “bulk cash smuggling“. As explained in that link, bulk cash smuggling essentially occurs when the money is hidden with the intent to evade the reporting requirement.

Money is often “hidden” because no one in the right mind would transport more than $10,000 out in the open, and so that is why the intent is so important.¬†The salient portion of the story is quoted below (full story is here):

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico ‚ÄĒ U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized over $74,500 in unreported currency in three separate incidents last weekend.

In the first incident, after arrival at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport from St. Thomas on October 2, a canine alerted to a passenger’s belongings. CBP officers interviewed him and his traveling companion. An inspection revealed over $15,000 of unreported Currency%20seizure3[1]currency, on their person and hidden within a suitcase. The currency was seized.

That same day, CBP officers were conducting outbound inspection on a flight destined to the Dominican Republic and interviewed three passengers after a canine alerted to their luggage. During inspection, $29,700 of unreported currency was discovered, which they later claimed someone paid them to transport to the Dominican Republic. The money was seized.

On another incident, a passenger arriving at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport from Bogota, Colombia on October 4 was selected for CBP inspection. Currency reporting requirements were explained multiple times and the passenger gave conflicting amounts, finally claiming he was carrying $20,000. Currency verification revealed a total of $29,280 hidden in separate places on his belongings. The currency was seized.

The currency was seized under bulk cash smuggling laws. Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

‚ÄúTransportation of currency is not illegal. However, if carrying more than $10,000 through our borders, the currency must be reported to CBP,‚ÄĚ said Juan Hurtado, San Juan Area Port Director. ‚ÄúTravelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges.‚ÄĚ

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. We are able to assist with cash seized by customs around the country, including Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places, and not just locally in Detroit. 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?
  9. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  10. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations
  12. Filing a Petition for Seized Currency (with Sample and Tips) with CBP
  13. Don’t Talk¬†About Your Customs Currency Seizure Case