Tag: u.s. customs

Tuition Money Seized by Customs

Customs seizure of tuition money is a common occurrence in the weeks prior to the start of either semester of the school year. Like all customs currency seizures, the seizure typically happens because of a failure to file a currency report by people transporting money into the United States of amounts over $10,000.

Lots of foreign students come to the United States and pay their tuition in cash as most colleges won’t accept tuition payments by credit card. Likewise, many foreign exchange students and children of immigrants get a lot of cash assistance from family overseas who understand their duty to pay for their children’s education; it may be a lump $15,000 sum from a parent or grandparent, or a few hundred or thousand dollars from several different relatives or benefactors.

Customs can easily identify someone on student visa, who is relatively young, and is arriving from China, India or Korea; we previously wrote about how customs can “target” currency reporting enforcement based on just these types of criteria. This makes it very easy for them to target students who will then be required to give an accurate report of currency down to the dollar, and if they don’t to seize their cash. The only thing higher than the cost of education is the cost of not accurately reporting money over $10,000 to customs.

What to do when Customs seizes your tuition money?

Traveling with cash? Claim monetary instruments exceeding $10,000 USD!
Don’t let customs seize cash. Traveling with cash? Claim monetary instruments exceeding $10,000 USD!

Take the advice we have already given for responding to a customs money seizure by reading our popular article on the topic: Responding to a Customs Currency Seizure. Currency seizure cases are handled the same whether the money that was seized by customs was intended to be used to pay for college tuition or, for example, for travel expenses. As long as the use of the money is legitimate (and tuition is a legitimate use) and the source of the money is legitimate, with the right legal help you have a good chance of getting your seized tuition money back. If you want to know what a petition to get seized money back from customs looks like, read our article here.

Will I get the money in time to pay my tuition?

It really depends on a variety of circumstances, as we talked about in our popular article on the topic: How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure? In every case, hiring the right attorney to handle your case can speed up the process, from getting the notice of seizure issued, to gathering evidence (obtaining supporting documents, preparing affidavits and giving customs everything they need without waiting for them to request additional documents), researching and drafting the legal basis for the obtaining a return of the seized currency in the petition, and ultimately, if successful, getting the money returned without delay, often by direct deposit. We work hard at Great Lakes Customs Law to get your seized currency returned back to you in a timely manner by doing the job right the first time.

How can I find out more or hire a law firm to help with my customs currency seizure?

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or 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 with cash seized by customs around the country, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando and many other places. 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?

Cash Seized by U.S. Customs and Arrest for Bulk Cash Smuggling

U.S. Customs reports on a recent customs bulk cash smuggling seizure from a Mexican national attempting to leave the United States. The money was seized and he is being criminally charged. The total amount seized from this individual was $37,181. In order to prevail on criminal bulk cash smuggling charges government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the cash seized by customs was concealed in the vehicle for the purposes of evading the reporting requirement. That’s the essence of the crime of bulk cash smuggling.

Even though the currency was also seized as being involved in a bulk cash smuggling offense, there is a possibility to recover some of the money. To put it somewhat simply, first, he will need to establish that the seized cash came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use. Then, the seized cash can be returned to the extent that seizure is unconstitutional: in other words, that seizure is a violation of the excessive fines clause of the U.S Constitution.

Let’s have a look at the story:

EAGLE PASS, Texas – Federal authorities at the Eagle Pass of Entry arrested a Mexican national Jan. 7, after finding a large amount of undeclared currency in his vehicle as he attempted to leave the country.

“Large amounts of currency may be imported and exported with the proper documentation,” said John Brandt, CBP Port Director, Eagle Pass. “Failure to report international transit of $10,000 or more could mean forfeiture of funds and criminal sanctions.Cash Seizure by Customs

“Seizing undeclared currency at ports of entry serves to deprive criminal organizations of their profits.”

Around 3 p.m. Jan. 7, CBP officers at Eagle Pass International Bridge I, inspected a 2014 Volkswagen GLI as is departed the United States bound for Mexico. During inspection, officers discovered a total of $36,645 in U.S. currency and 7,890 Mexican pesos ($536.37 U.S.) in various locations throughout the vehicle and in the driver’s possession. Officers recovered currency totaling $37,181.

The driver, a 25-year-old Sabinas, Coahuila, Mexico man, was turned over to Homeland Security Investigations for federal prosecution on a charge of 31 U.S. Code § 5332 – bulk cash smuggling into or out of the United States.

The Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within U.S. Customs and Border Protection 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.

You can read our popular page on Responding to a Customs Money Seizure HERE. Our customs law firm handles currency/money seizures made by customs in Detroit and around the country; call (734) 855-4999 to consult with a customs lawyer today. If you have had money seized by Detroit CBP/customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page (see our case results here). We are able to assist with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles about money seizures by customs:

  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. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures
  11. Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations

Statute of Limitations for Currency Reporting Violations

This is an article about the statute of limitations for currency reporting violations (failure to report monetary instruments over $10,000, bulk cash smuggling, and structuring); in other words, how soon after an offense is committed (or when the currency is seized) that the government must bring criminal charges against you before they are prevented by the statute of limitations. If you want to skip to that part and don’t want to learn some fascinating facts about the most intact T-Rex skeleton ever found, and how one of its discoverers was pursued by the government for allegedly failing to report a currency and monetary instruments over $10,000, scroll down to the next heading.

Currency Reporting Violations and Sue the Dinosaur

Like a lot of grown men, I was fascinated with dinosaurs as a kid. So those kind of headlines still catch my eye. The other day I came across this CNN story — a saga really — about the discovery of the “most intact T-rex skeleton ever found” back in 1990 (“Sue“). To sum things up, shortly after the fossil was discovered FBI agents, accompanied by the national guard, seized the fossil because it was, they alleged, on Indian Trust land (read: under Federal government jurisdiction). The

Sue the Dinosaur

ownership of the dinosaur, and allegations that the people involved with the discovery had stolen and sold dinosaur fossils found on public land, were in the courts for years.

But as I read the story, I was intrigued to read that one of the people responsible for the discovery of the dinosaur “served 18 months in federal prison for customs violations” unrelated to the dinosaur discovery. I thought it must have had something to do with the importation of dinosaur fossils like happened in Detroit a few years ago, which I blogged about. But not so. Looking into the matter further, I discovered this 1996 article from the New York Times that explains the customs violations were for failing to report the transport of more than $10,000 into or out of the United States:

…Mr. Larsen was convicted of two felonies — failure to report to American customs officials $31,700 in travelers checks he had brought from Japan, and failure to report $15,000 in cash he took to Peru.

Oops! The story basically says that, of 153 charges in a 39 count indictment brought against him by the Federal government, these currency reporting violations and some misdemeanors related to the sale of fossils valued at less than $100 is what stuck. In the context of the fiasco about the dinsoaur bones, winding up getting criminally charged with failure to report currency being transported in excess of $10,000 seems kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it?

What’s the statute of limitations of currency reporting violations?

This story was just the occasion for me write about the statute of limitations for currency reporting violations (failure to report, bulk cash smuggling, and unlawful structuring that often result in currency seizures). The statute of limitations for currency reporting violations under 31 USC §§ 5316, 5324 and 5332 is found in 18 USC § 3282(a), which states:

Except as otherwise expressly provided by law, no person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for any offense, not capital, unless the indictment is found or the information is instituted within five years next after such offense shall have been committed.

That means once the event giving rise to the violation has occurred, the government has 5 years from that date to bring criminal charges against you.

My customs currency seizure clients often want to know: is failing to report currency a crime? Yes, it is, and it is punishable by a fine of $250,000 to $500,000 and 5 to 10 years in jail. But I also tell them that if they were not arrested at the time the currency was seized, and the U.S. Attorney was notified and declined to prosecute you, they probably will not face criminal charges.

But just because you weren’t arrested and charged immediately still means it could happen up to 5 years later.

Keep Calm and Declare Monetary Instruments Exceeding $10,000 USD

If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or 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 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?

 

Million Dollar Week for Customs Currency Seizures

Our customs currency seizure clients typically aren’t the type of people who smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars across the border as part of some crime (see our typical cases here), and so the amounts of seized currency we typically see don’t quite reach the proportions of these recent CBP currency seizures in Arizona that netted CBP of more than a half million bucks. If these people could prove they weren’t up to no-good by showing the money came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use, then this seizure of their money was completely avoidable. Read our popular information on responding to a currency seizure by clicking HERE.

Just look at this story below:Customs Currency Seizure

TUCSON, Ariz. – One week after seizing almost half a million dollars in unreported U.S. currency at a crossing in Nogales, Arizona, port officials apprehended a 25-year-old Mexican national Sunday for failing to declare more than $190,000 when he attempted to cross into Mexico through the Port of Nogales.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting outbound inspections at the Mariposa crossing selected a vehicle driven by Luis Yovanni De La Herran-Zamudio for further inspection and found the unreported money hidden beneath his vehicle’s rear hatch.

Officers processed the vehicle and currency for seizure, and referred De La Herran to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

On Aug. 16, officers at the DeConcini crossing seized $420,000 from a male resident of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

Easy come, easy go.  Let’s be realistic, the currency was more than just “un-reported” as the story says: it was completely concealed (hello, bulk cash smuggling violations). And since the man was arrested, we reasonably guess there were some truly suspicious circumstances beyond just an inadvertent failure to file a currency report.

But now, even if criminal charges were not filed or if they are ultimately found not guilty of a crime they may still face civil forfeiture of the money. They will have to fight for its return administratively, or in the courts. If you have had cash seized by customs and are contemplating what to do next, please make use of the other information available on this website or call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact pageWe 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.

Read these other articles about customs currency seizures:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Customs currency seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Customs currency seizure; 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. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  8. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  9. Customs currency seizure; Tuition Money Seized by Customs

Holiday Weekend Customs Cash Seizures

Many customs cash seizures by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) are bound to happen all over the country this weekend at airports and border crossings. The increased amount of travel for labor day weekend will be a big Customs Cash Seizurefactor, but most cash will be seized because as it is the start of the academic year. Foreign exchange students, graduate students, PhD candidates, visiting professors,  researchers, and other professionals employed or sponsored by universities will be arriving in the United States with their tuition money or money for living expenses, and if they fail to report it to customs, it will be seized before they ever get a chance to use it. Get the details: Tuition Money Seized by Customs.

It does not matter that the money is legitimate. It only matters that there is a failure to make an accurate report to customs about how much money is transported. This reporting process usually starts by properly filling out your customs declaration form on arrival. Failure to properly report more than $10,000 transported into or out the country will result in a customs cash seizure. As we explained in previous articles, customs knows how to target arriving passengers to find people who might have money (Read: Targeting Customs Seizure Enforcement). If you are reading this after you already had a customs cash seizure then this article will tell you what to expect: Responding to a Customs currency seizure.

You can get your money back, but it will take time and effort. If you file a petition for remission, customs will require proof of the source of the money and its intended use. Customs has stringent requirements for getting your money back. They have specific documentation requirements depending on the country the money came from. Although the process is difficult and time consuming, it is almost always worth trying to get your money back. There is no customs cash seizure case that is hopeless, even if the documentation is missing or unavailable! For the best chances of success, you should hire a customs lawyer with a track record of successfully getting seized currency back from customs.

We are that experienced customs lawyer. If you have had your tuition money seized by customs, call us at (734) 855-4999 or contact us HERE because Great Lakes Customs Law can help.

Read these other articles about customs cash seizures:

  1. Seizure of currency and monetary instruments by U.S. Customs
  2. Customs cash seizure for bulk cash smuggling into or out of the U.S.
  3. Customs cash seizure; 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. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  8. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  9. Customs cash seizure; Tuition Money Seized by Customs

Customs Wood Packaging Material Violations In The News Again

Wood Packaging Material violations and penalties should be something you don’t hear about in the news anymore. But WPM violations and the penalties that come with them, still rear their head everyone once in a while. We authored an article on everything you need to know about Regulated Wood Packaging Material violations and penalties, which discussed the elements of a violation, possible resolutions for the importer who is facing re-export of WPM, and notice of penalty for importations contrary to law for WPM violations.

The reason this should be something that don’t hear about anymore is because the restrictions on WPM have been in place since 2005… the trade community was given ample time to comply. Yet still, almost 10 years

WPM Mark
WPM Mark

later, customs released a C-TPAT alert for non-compliant wood packaging material violations. The whole alert is HERE, but I quote some parts below:

The purpose of this C-TPAT Alert is to inform all C-TPAT Partners, particularly its sea carriers, of recent interceptions of non-compliant wood packing material (WPM) used in flat rack cargo carried by ocean vessels traversing the Mediterranean.

WPM is defined as wood or wood products (excluding paper products) used in supporting, protecting, or carrying a commodity. Some examples of WPM include: bins, cases, cratings, reels, load boards, boxes, containers, pallets, skids, dunnage and crates. Snails and other pests may infest non-compliant wood packing material. These pests are regulated under the Federal Plant Protection Act. Snail

infestations of WPM is just an example of a threat that targets the world’s agriculture and the Nation’ food supply. With the ever increasing amount of trade, the threat to U.S. crops and livestock is real.

The commodities with the highest incidence of WPM pests include: manifested WPM; machinery (including auto parts); metal products; and stone products (including tile).
Other high risk commodities include electronics and electronic components, finished wood articles, plant products and foodstuffs.

Please read our article including everything you need to know about WPM violations by CLICKING HERE.

If you have been informed that you wood packaging material is in violation of the law and needs to be re-exported, immediately call or e-mail office at (734) 855-4999 and we can prepare an application to separate violative wood packaging material so that, if it is granted, you do not have to undergo the time and expense of re-exporting the merchandise you are trying to import.

If you have received a notice of penalty or liquidated damages and are being told you must pay as a result of the violation, immediately call or e-mail our office at (734) 855-4999 and we can prepare a petition for mitigation of the penalty amount.

Never pay full price in a penalty proceeding!

 

Failure to Declare Jewelry at Chicago Customs

Recently, customs in Chicago made a large seizure of jewelry from an arriving passenger for a failure to declare jewelry that was purchased abroad. The full story, which I quote below, is a lesson in the penalties for violations of 19 USC 1497, which is the law that allows seizures and penalties for a passenger’s failure to declare jewelry and other imported merchandise.

This failure to declare will prove to be a costly mistake. There are three things the importer must do to get out of this mess:

  1. Pay the original duties ($30,043.75)
  2. Pay any penalty levied (maximum $691,553)
  3. Get the jewelry back (petition for remission after the notice of seizure)

The penalty will, no doubt, be issued for the full amount allowed by law which is the value of the seized property. The importer will have 60 days to either pay the full penalty or request a penalty reduction based on customs mitigation guidelines for failure to declare. Those guidelines basically state that for commercial violations of this type he should end up paying anywhere from 3 to 8 times the duty that was owed. That means somewhere between $90,000 and $240,000.

If ever I saw a person in dire need of a customs lawyer, this is it. If you’re out there and reading this give me a call at (734) 855-4999.

CHICAGO —U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport seized a cache of jewelry worth almost $700,000 on Thursday. A 65-year-old U.S. citizen was selected for examination by CBP officers as he arrived from Paris via a flight London.

The passenger claimed nothing on his Automated Passport Control (APC) declaration, his written declaration and confirmed to CBP officers that he had not made any purchases or acquisitions on his trip. Upon examination of his baggage, CBP officers noticed receipts for various boxes containing what appeared to be high end jewelry, invoices and receipts. Some lose jewelry was discovered concealed in pockets of articles of clothing within his luggage. A total of 29 high value jewelry pieces were identified.

Upon discovery of the jewelry, the passenger provided CBP officers with the values of each item and stated that he works as jewelry distributor in the United States. Computer checks indicated that the passenger has imported jewelry in the past on several occasions.

The total estimated domestic value of all 29 items is $691,553. The jewelry was seized under 19 USC 1497, failure to declare. The passenger faces a maximum penalty equal to the domestic value of the undeclared merchandise and forfeiture of the jewelry. Had the passenger made a proper declaration, he would have paid $30,043.75 in duty.

As mentioned above, the importer can respond to customs’ notice of seizure and the subsequent notice of penalty with the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures office by filing a petition for mitigation and ask customs to return the property and 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 may bring a lawsuit against them 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 had a failure to declare jewelry to Customs or had other property seized by customs call our office at (734) 855-4999 to speak to a customs lawyer, or e-mail us through our contact page. Once your merchandise is seized, Customs may issue a penalty for the violation of law itself. If you have received a notice of penalty from U.S. Customs call our office immediately to discuss the possibility of filing a petition to reduce the penalty amount.

We are able to assist petitions and in seizures by customs nationwide.

Customs Seizure of $91,215 in Currency at Border

Below is a news release quoted from customs about a $91,215 customs currency seizure. If this person whose cash was seized by customs wasn’t up to anything illegal, then customs currency seizure was totally avoidable. He would have had to file the currency report, and demonstrate a legitimate source and legitimate intended use for the money. That is still what he will have to do if he wants to get the money back. But, he could have taken it with him had he only not hid the money and given Customs what they needed.

Let’s have a look at the story:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers conducting inbound enforcement operations at the Brownsville Port of Entry seized $91,215 in bulk U.S. currency.

On May 29, 2014, CBP officers working enforcement operations at the Gateway International Bridge came in contact with a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country as it attempted to enter the United States. The driver, an 18 year-old United States citizen from Brownsville, Texas was referred to secondary for further inspection. In secondary, a search of the Town & Country resulted in the discovery of packages containing $91,215 in bulk U.S. currency hidden within the vehicle.

CBP officers seized the 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 northbound enforcement inspections are critical to our efforts of keeping undeclared currency from being imported without meeting proper reporting requirements. I commend our CBP officers for an outstanding seizure and arrest in this alleged bulk currency smuggling case,” said David Moreno, acting CBP Port Director, Brownsville.

It is not a crime to carry more than $10,000, but it is a federal offense not to declare currency or monetary instruments totaling $10,000 or more to a CBP officer upon entry or exit from the U.S. or to conceal it with intent to evade reporting requirements. Failure to declare may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest. An individual may petition for the return of currency seized by CBP officers, but the petitioner must prove that the source and intended use of the currency was legitimate.

CBP Field Operations at Brownsville Port of Entry is part of the South Texas Campaign, which leverages federal, state and local resources to combat transnational criminal organizations.

If you have had money 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 with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  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. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures

Customs Currency Seizure; Criminal Charges for Bulk Cash Smugglers

U.S. customs effected a currency seizure of unreported currency under the bulk cash smuggling laws from citizens of the Dominican Republic and United States, who are all related and travelling together.  Some interesting things to note about this story is that although the money seems to be from a legitimate source because the story says it was from a business, criminal charges were nevertheless brought against all individuals involved in the bulk cash smuggling. Bulk cash smuggling is illegal, no matter the source. We have written articles about bulk cash smuggling before HERE.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized $53,000 in unreported currency Friday, transported by three passengers boarding the M/V Caribbean Fantasy ferry departing to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

CBP Officers selected Dominican Republic citizen Mr. Felipe Alvarez, 69, for examination and explained to him the currency reporting requirements.  During the interview, Mr. Alvarez declared to be traveling alone and transporting less than $10,000. Intensive examination revealed that he was traveling with two other passengers, US citizen Manuel De La Rosa, 47, and Dominican Republic citizen Cristian De La Rosa, 35, both nephews of Mr. Alvarez.

Subsequent interview and exam of the three passengers revealed non reported currency within their clothing and in their carry-on items totaling $53,726.00. Mr. Alvarez later admitted that the money transported by him and his nephews were proceeds of his business in the Dominican Republic.

The currency was seized under bulk cash smuggling laws and Assistant AUSA Olga Castellón approved criminal prosecution for the three individuals.

Those arrested were remanded to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for processing and further investigation.

“The unreported cash that we seize has an impact on criminal organizations by making it more difficult for them to further their illicit activities,” said Juan Hurtado, San Juan area port director. “CBP officers remain vigilant generating important enforcement activity regularly.”

Individuals are permitted to carry any amount of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the United States.  However, if the quantity is $10,000 or higher, they must formally report the currency to CBP. Failure to report may result in seizure of the currency and/or arrest.

Source: http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2013/1/28/46527/US-agents-seize-US53000-from-local-man-at-San-Juan-Seaport

If you have had money 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 with cash seized by customs nationwide, including Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Orlando.

Please read these other articles from our customs law blog:

  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. How do I get my seized money back from customs?
  8. Getting money seized by U.S. Customs back while staying overseas
  9. How long does it take Customs to decide a petition for a currency/monetary instrument seizure?
  10. Targeted Enforcement for Customs Money Seizures

Customs Country of Origin & Substantial Transformation

Determining country of origin for U.S. Customs marking purposes can at times be easy but other times it can be very difficult. This depends largely on the number of countries involved and the processes the merchandise undergoes in those countries. We have previously discussed how to properly mark country of origin on imported merchandise in another article (READ IT HERE).

In this article, we will try to briefly explain how country of origin is determined for customs marking purposes for merchandise imported from countries that the U.S. does not have a special trade agreement with.1 At the time of posting this article, then, these rules for determining country of origin is appropriate for countries such as China, Germany, Switzerland, England, Italy, and some others where there is no special, overriding, trade agreement.

How is country of origin determined?

For customs purposes, country of origin is the country of manufacture, production, or growth of any article. If only one country is involved in the production, manufacture, or growth of the article, that is the country of origin.

However, for articles that are manufactured or produced with materials from more than one country, or which undergo further production or manufacture in more than one country, the country of origin is the country where the article last underwent a “substantial transformation.” Substantial transformation is defined as the process whereby the article is turned into a new and different article of commerce, with a different and distinct name, character, and use from the article as it was previously.2

Again, these rules are only for countries that the U.S. does not have a special trade agreement with. So, for example, there are different country of origin marking rules for NAFTA.

When is merchandise “substantially transformed” for country of origin purposes?

What constitutes a “substantial transformation” for any particular article depends on the specific type and amount of production and manufacturing that the article undergoes. For this reason, no general guideline beyond creating a “new and different article of commerce, with a different and distinct name, character, and use” is possible.

For that reason, each article’s country of origin must be determined on a case-by-case basis. If it is difficult to determine country of origin for a particular article, it might be necessary to get formal guidance from customs through a request for a prospective ruling, which usually results in customs issuing a formal ruling letter that they are obliged to honor. It can also be helpful to review previously issued ruling letters to find similar cases, and get a sense for how the law is applied to a particular situation. This should only be done by a customs lawyer or an experienced broker, who understands the law and the exact phases of production of the imported merchandise.

What happens if imported merchandise has an incorrect country of origin marking?Keep Calm and Contact Your Customs Attorney

If country of origin marking is wrong, Customs will deny release of imported products, or if already released from Customs custody, they will be required to be returned via redelivery notice. Customs may impose and collect an additional duty of 10% of the article’s value before allowing release (“marking duties”), an amount in addition to any other duties normally owed, if any. Before release, Customs will  require that the article be marked with the correct country of origin and until marked duties paid.

Customs Attorney Consultation for Country of Origin and Marking Requirements

If you have a question about proper country of origin marking, identifying the actual country of origin, otherwise determining how to comply with the Customs rules concerning proper country of origin marking for imported merchandise, or if your competitor is not marking or mis-marking country of origin on their products, you should contact our office at 734-855-4999 or send us a message on our contact page. We can always help.

  1. Different laws often apply for determining country of origin when there is a free trade agreement in place, as of this writing, the U.S. has free trade agreements with Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Jordan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Oman, Panama, Peru, and Singapore. []
  2. 19 CFR 134.1(d); In United States v. Gibson-Thomsen Co., 2 Cust. Ct. 172 (1938); U.S. Rules of Origin, CBP (2004), p. 9. []