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US Customs Money Seized

Was your cash or money seized at the border? The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operates under the Department of Homeland Security with a primary purpose of preventing terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States. To achieve this, they monitor activities for signs of terrorist networks and enforce various U.S. laws and regulations, including those related to immigration, drugs, and international trade.

By supervising the movement of large amounts of currency across U.S. borders, CBP aims to disrupt international crime organizations attempting to bring in money through illegal operations. This strengthens border security and deters criminal network activities.

Cash Seizures

The Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, known as the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), mandates the monitoring of currency movements to identify potential money laundering, tax evasion, or other criminal activities. U.S. law requires that any currency or monetary equivalents over $10,000 be declared upon entering or leaving the country. Failure to declare such funds can result in severe consequences, including cash seizure and additional penalties.

According to the instructions on FinCEN Form 105, the form necessary for proper travel declaration, only U.S. currency or other monetary instruments need to be reported. Transfers of funds through normal banking procedures do not require reporting.

In the fiscal year 2023, CBP reported the following data:

  • $1.4 billion in seized goods violating intellectual property rights
  • $110 million in cash seizures from targeted operations
  • 4.5 million pounds of narcotics seized

These seizures result from enforcement investigations uncovering illegal currency or goods movements and the lack of proper reporting as required by FinCEN Form 105.

Examples of Cash Seizures

Most cash seizure incidents occur at the country’s borders. A recent CBP report highlighted several seizures at the Mexican border in the El Paso, Texas area, where $55,739 was seized in less than one week.

Case 1: At the El Paso port of entry, a pickup truck exiting the country was inspected, revealing $14,159 hidden in various locations. Since the currency was not reported, it was seized.

Case 2: At the Santa Teresa port of entry, a pickup truck crossing into Mexico declared $8,000. However, an inspection revealed more than $10,000 hidden in passengers’ shoes and throughout the truck, totaling $18,775. CBP officers returned the declared $8,000 and seized the excess amount.

Case 3: At the Presidio port of entry, a truck entering the U.S. declared under $10,000. An inspection uncovered over $22,000 among the driver and passengers, leading to the seizure of both the currency and the vehicle.

Summary

While the primary mission of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency is to prevent terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States, the agency also has essential functions such as enforcing laws related to immigration, drugs, and international trade. Many activities monitored for potential terrorist threats also reveal illegal drug channels and other criminal organizations, often leading to cash seizures.

Understanding the process and ensuring proper reporting of currency movements can help avoid severe consequences such as cash seizure. If your cash is seized, knowing your rights and seeking legal advice promptly can assist in navigating the complexities of the seizure process.

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