Tag: structuring cash transactions

Stacks of bills totaling $16,152 in unreported currency seized by CBP officers at Eagle Pass Port of Entry.

Texas CBP Seizes $12k Currency Outbound to Mexio

If it wasn’t for the CBP currency seizures in Texas, lately, I would have no cash seizure to write about and comment on. Thus, today I write about another Texas CBP currency seizure, and again it is at the Eagle Pass port of entry, this time at the Camino Real Bridge. The CBP news release details a couple of enforcement incidents, but our focus is on the seized currency.

In this story, two male Mexican citizens traveling together carried (and thus had seized) $12,247 in “unreported currency.” When two people travel together and have money seized, we usually see Customs aggregating the currency they travel with together and then accusing them (and questioning them, often aggressively) about how “they divided the money” to not have to report it.

To give an example, in this case it’s possible the $5,000 belong to one of the guys, and the other $7,000 belonged to the second guy. When stopped by CBP and asked if they are traveling with currency, the men will respond:

“I have $5,000, and my friend has $7,000.” At this point, it’s very likely they will have their money seized because CBP has no way of knowing if you’re telling the truth and the money really belongs to both people, and not just one person who has structured (i.e., divided) the money so he does not have to report it.

I did a video that probably explains it a little better, watch it here.

That’s how it probably all happened. But here’s the story:

EAGLE PASS, Texas—U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations (OFO) interdicted a steady stream of undeclared currency, firearms and ammunition this week in four enforcement actions at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry.

“Our frontline officers continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of blending inspection skills and experience with the use of technology in these enforcement actions,” said Port Director Paul Del Rincon, Eagle Pass Port of Entry.

* * *

On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, CBP officers inspected a 2008 Saturn Astro XR traveling outbound at the Camino Real Bridge driven by a 35-year-old male Mexican citizen accompanied by a 45-year-old male Mexican citizen. During the inspection officers discovered $12,247 of unreported currency. The undeclared money was seized and both subjects were arrested and turned over to Maverick County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.

Has Texas CBP seized currency?

Has Texas CBP seized currency? If so, we can help. Read our helpful customs money seizure legal guide (or watch the videos) and contact us for a free currency seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

$28k laid out on a white table at Dulles airport CBP

Dulles Cash Seizure: $28k to Ghana

Last week or so, CBP at Dulles reported on some recent seizure activity for enforcing the currency reporting requirement for travelers heading to Ghana with  more than $10,000. In this case, the money was discovered when a dog smelled the money in a woman’s carry-on bag. Upon inspection and questioning, the officers found out she structured the money by giving it 5 other people (also traveling to Ghana) on the flight.

Here’s the full story here. 

STERLING, Virginia — On consecutive days, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currency detector dog alert resulted in the seizure Thursday of unreported currency from Ghana-bound travelers at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The currency K9 alerted to one passenger’s carry-on bag. She reported to CBP officers that she possessed $8,000. Officers discovered $11,500 in her carry-on.

The woman then admitted to traveling with four additional passengers. She allegedly reported that her travel companions were carrying currency for her, which is known as structuring, to avoid exceeding the $10,000 reporting threshold. Structuring is a serious allegation that may result in federal prosecution. However, no charges have been filed at this time.

CBP officers had the four additional travelers and their baggage pulled from the flight for further inspection. Officers discovered an additional $16,354 of the first woman’s currency among three of her four travel companions. Officers seized a total of $27,854 and provided the woman $154 as humanitarian relief. Officers released all five travelers.

All five travelers were born in Ghana. Three are naturalized U.S. citizens, one is a U.S. lawful permanent resident of Ghana citizenship, and one is a Ghana citizen.

It is perfectly legal to carry large sums of currency in or out of the United States. However, federal law requires that travelers who possess $10,000 or more in currency or other monetary instruments must report it all to a CBP officer at the airport, seaport, or land border crossing when entering or leaving the country.

“Structuring currency to deliberately circumvent U.S. law is a serious violation that brings with it potentially severe consequences to the violator, but it does happen and so Customs and Border Protection officers remain vigilant to intercept these currency structuring efforts,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Field Operations Director in Baltimore. “CBP remains committed to enforcing all of our nation’s laws, including federal currency reporting laws, at our nation’s international ports of entry.”


Notice of Seizure and Intent to Forfeit (CAFRA) at the Port of Detroit

Cash seized by Detroit Airport CBP: Going, going… gone?

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:
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.
The CBP global entry line at Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Detroit Metro Airport CBP Seize $59,451 Cash

Finally, a CBP cash seizure press release from my own home port of Detroit that happened at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which is just a few miles down the road from our office. This one involves a U.S. citizen returning from China with his wife; together, the couple was found to be transporting more than $10,000 cash through Customs…. about $50,000 more, actually.

Here’s the full story from Detroit CBP:

DETROITOn November 28, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport seized $59,451 in U.S. currency from a United States citizen after he failed to report the currency to CBP officers. The traveler is a member of the Global Entry trusted traveler program.

The male traveler and his wife arrived in Detroit on a flight from Beijing, China. He initially denied carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. currency or its equivalent in foreign currency. CBP Officers questioned the traveler as he and his wife attempted to exit the federal inspection area separately 13 minutes apart. Further inspection led to the discovery of $59,451 divided between the two.

“You must report to CBP that you are carrying $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency or other monetary instruments when you travel into or out of the United States, especially if you are a member of Global Entry.” said Devin Chamberlain, CBP Detroit (Airport) Port Director. “There is no limit as to how much currency travelers can import or export. However, the law requires travelers to report when they carry at least $10,000 in monetary instruments.  Violators may face criminal prosecution and forfeiture of the undisclosed funds.”

As you can see, this story involves both a failure to report cash to customs and unlawful cash structuring. As we’ve explained time and time again at this customs law blog, cash will be seized by Detroit CBP if it is divided between a husband and wife (or other family members) traveling together and CBP has cause to believe it was done for the purpose of avoiding filing the currency report on form FinCen 105.

Had cash seized at Detroit Metro Airport by CBP?

If you’re like the people in this story and have suffered a cash seizure by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) at Detroit Metro Airport, you’re in need of a lawyer to help you get your money back and potentially avoid criminal prosecution or inquiry. Every case is different and nuances, exceptions and interpretations are almost always present making each case unique and challenging. Many people need help even understanding the election of proceedings form that is included with the notice of seizure.

Please make use of our customs currency seizure legal guide, but remember to also take advantage of our free currency seizure consultation by contacting us today by clicking on the contact button!

Dulles Airport CBP Took Cash from Husband and Wife

Cash Taken by CBP From Travelers at Dulles

If you’re visiting the United States or leaving the United States and have more than $10,000 cash or equivalents, you must report it to CBP or risk having it seized for failing to report it (or worse yet, risk fines and jail time). A case in point comes to us from CBP at Dulles Airport from “from two South Africa-bound U.S. citizens on [September 22] for violating federal currency reporting violations“:

During an outbound inspection, the man and wife declared, both verbally and in writing, to CBP officers that they possessed $17,500; however, CBP officers discovered a total of $27,378 on their person and in their luggage.  The officers seized the $27,378 and advised them how to petition for the return of the currency. The travelers were then released to continue their journey.

So after the cash was taken, the couple was detained, questioned, and the cash counted, they were released to continue their journey.

What is a CBP detention like after cash is taken?

Typically after cash is taken by CBP, the seizure and detention takes long enough that the traveler’s cannot continue on their journey until the book a new flight (and pay re-booking fees). If husband and wife are traveling together, most of my husband-and-wife clients report that they are separated from each other and independently interrogated about the source of the cash and their intended destination, and what they intended to use the money for.

This interrogation can be done by a CBP officer or by a Homeland Security agent, depending on the situation. Customs’ is required to report the currency report violation to the U.S. Attorney’s office who is charged with determining whether or not they wish to press criminal charges, and thus determine if the violators should be arrested.

The encounters with CBP range from polite and apologetic to demeaning, rude, and aggressive; and everything else in between.

Did CBP take your cash?

If CBP took your cash, you really need a lawyer. Read our trusted customs money seizure legal guide and can contact us for a free cash seizure consultation by clicking the contact buttons on this page.

CBP checkpoint at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel border crossing, with vehicles in the foreground.

Detroit & Chicago Cash Forfeiture Notices

There have not been any CBP news releases recently about cash seizures conducted by U.S. Customs & Border Protection, but that does not mean CBP has stopped seizing cash. Far from it, in fact. For example, there are only a couple (if that) of cash seizure news releases from the Port of Detroit each year, yet last year they were #2 in cash seizures nationwide.

Once cash is seized by CBP, a person has several options to try to get it back (or to not get it back), most of which are on the election of proceedings form. If they aren’t successful, don’t try to get the money back, or file a claim, the publication of the notice of seizure and intent to forfeit is published online for all the world to see and, if interested, to make a claim for the seized cash.

Case in point, on November 20, 2015, at the land border crossing between Detroit and Canada $14,000 cash was seized by U.S. Customs & Border Protection for a failure to report. Because the seizure occurred last November and is only now being published, it is very likely that the administrative resolution was unsuccessful.

That usually means a bad lawyer, no lawyer, or insufficient documentation showing legitimate source and use of the seized cash.

2016380100013401-001-0000, Seized on 11/20/2015; At the port of DETROIT, MI; $14000 IN USD; 140; EA; Valued at $14,000.00; For violation of 31USC5317, 31USC5316, 31CFR1010.340(A)

Now even though Detroit has more CBP cash seizures than Chicago for violating the reporting requirements, Chicago CBP seizes a lot of cash seizures for alleged criminal violations, including money laundering:

2016390100098701-001-0000, Seized on 08/11/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 1,344; EA; Valued at $31,000.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956, 21USC881

2016390100098901-001-0000, Seized on 08/10/2016; At the port of CHICAGO, IL; U.S. CURRENCY; 176; EA;Valued at $4,000.00; For violation of 18USC981, 18USC1956, 21USC881

Now, I would love to know if these were seized from people traveling internationally, or just people traveling within the United States. If seized while traveling internationally, because there is no cited violation of the reporting requirement (or bulk cash smuggling or structuring laws), I would imagine either the money was truly reported but Customs suspected (or knew of…) a connection to illegal activity; or, the connection to illegal activity was so strong they chose not to allege a violation of the reporting requirements laws under Title 31.

Has Chicago or Detroit CBP seized your cash?

If CBP in Chicago or Detroit seized your cash, you need a lawyer. Read 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. Our new, Chicago customs law office is located at 150 S. Wacker Drive, where we can be reached at (773) 920-1840.
Stacks of $100 bills in row after a customs currency seizure in a story about reporting currency in the Caribbean.

Reporting Currency in the Caribbean (CBP Reminder)

U.S. Customs (CBP) has issued a public reminder on reporting currency in the Caribbean to travelers to when either entering the United States or at their preclearance facilities in Nassau or other foreign countries. This is might be connected with the recent Caribbean traveler who did not report $45,000 in currency that we blogged about.

Here’s the reminder from CBP on reporting currency in the Caribbean directed at travelers:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seen a recent spike among Caribbean travelers who are not reporting the required currency amount to CBP officers at ports of entry upon entering or departing the United States.


Stacks of $100 bills in row after a customs currency seizure in a story about reporting currency in the Caribbean.
Reporting currency in the Caribbean is a requirement when entering or leaving the United States and at CBP preclearance centers.

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the U.S., but if it is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP using a Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network FinCEN Form 105.


If travelers have someone else carry the currency or monetary instrument for them, they must file a currency report for the entire amount with CBP. Failure to report [cash] carries serious consequences.


“It is important for all travelers to make an accurate declaration of all monetary instruments,” said Jeff Mara, CBP port director for Nassau Preclearance. “Upon a failure to do so, they not only face the possibility of a penalty or seizure of all their funds, but they also face potential criminal prosecution.”

This reminder on reporting currency in the Caribbean should not fall on deaf ears. In our legal roadmap of a customs money seizure we provide a detailed explanation of the consequences of traveling with money and not report that money to CBP, and why you should be extraordinarily careful in what you do and say in trying to get the money back.

We have been trusted by over 130 people, as shown in our case results section, to help get their seized currency returned.