I’ve been a busy customs lawyer recently, but most especially the last six months. Therefore, while I’ve still been trying to get each of you many readers some new stuff for the customs law blog each week, my attention has been mostly elsewhere.
And so, I’ve finally got back to keeping an eye on the weekly forfeiture notices published U.S. Customs & Border Protection each week. There was nothing interest this week for Detroit or Chicago in terms of CAFRA seizures, but last week’s notice had some unfortunate postings:
PUBLICATION/POSTING START: April 28, 2017
PUBLICATION/POSTING END: May 28, 2017
DEADLINE TO FILE A CLAIM: June 27, 2017
2017380700072301-001-0000, Seized on 02/08/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; U.S. CURRENCY RETAINED; 217; EA; Valued at $20,719.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31CFR1010.340(A)
2017380700078501-001-0000, Seized on 02/22/2017; At the port of DETROIT, MI; US CURRENCY RETAINED; 151; EA; Valued at $13,989.00; For violation of 31USC5316, 31USC5317, 31USC5324, 31CFR1010.340(A)
I cringe when I see entries like this. What in the hell happened that two people have let almost $35,000 get published for forfeiture? Both occurred at Detroit airport in February, both contain no allegations of illegal activity aside from a failure to report or a cash structuring violation, and yet…. here it is, just about as good as gone. (The only way it would be published and not as good as gone is if someone filed seized asset claim form, as opposed to some administrative option. Generally, for most people and cases, a claim is a bad idea. Despite what other self-styled “premier forfeiture litigators” may put on their websites.)
“But wait!” you say, “the deadline to file a claim is not until June 27!” That is true, but you are ineligible to file a claim if you received a notice of seizure letter. So if you just chose to do nothing in the 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice then you can’t step in and file a claim once it has been published…. that is unless you have a Really Clever Customs Lawyer.