It was a big day late last month for the U.S. Customs and Border Protections (CBP), as it seized a significant amount of crystal meth and unreported currency with a value of more than $1 million in Laredo, Texas.
On a typical day, the CBP processes over 1 million passengers and pedestrians. In the 2015 fiscal year, the CBP performed over 2 million drug seizures and seized nearly $20 million in currency.
The narcotics and cash were seized as part of two separate enforcement actions in Laredo, which lies just north of the US-Mexico border and the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Nuevo Laredo is the primary base of the drug cartel Los Zetas, which has made the US-Mexico border in this region particularly active in the drug trade operated by the criminal syndicate.
For Port Director Gregory Alvarez of the Laredo Port of Entry, however, this seizure was just another day at the office. “CBP officers not only ensure that inbound travelers and cargo comply with U.S. laws and regulations but also conduct outbound examinations to safeguard the revenue of the U.S. and protect against unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, which often can be proceeds from alleged illicit activity,” said Alvarez. “These were excellent interceptions by our CBP officers and serve as a great example to illustrate the layered enforcement implemented by CBP.”
The first seizure occurred on Wednesday, Sept. 20 when a CBP officer marked a 2017 Freightliner tractor trailer driven by a 42-year-old male Mexican citizen bound for the US for a secondary examination. After a canine and non-intrusive inspection by CBP officers, 12 packages containing a total of 50 lbs of crystal methamphetamine were discovered, which has an estimated street value of just over $1 million.
The second seizure happened on the same day at a different bridge over the Rio Grande. A 2008 Buick Enclave, driven by a different 42-year-old Mexican male, was referred for intensive inspection by a CBP officer. The canine unit was brought in to search the vehicle. After a canine and non-intrusive inspection, CBP discovered 19 packages containing just over $90,000 in unreported US currency.
Individuals leaving or entering the US are permitted to carry any amount of currency with them, but any amount over $10,000 must be reported to the CBP. Failure to declare currency above this amount can result in seizure of the currency and possibly arrest. Even if declared, such a large amount of currency is bound to attract intense scrutiny from border officials.
In this case, CBP seized the vehicles, narcotics, and currency, while the drivers were arrested and turned over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) agents for investigation.
Has Your Currency Been Seized?
If your currency has been seized, then you should hire a lawyer. There is an administrative process by which you can attempt to recuperate your funds and having the assistance of a skilled attorney is key to maximizing your chance of getting your money back and minimizing your chances of exposing yourself to civil and criminal fines. Contact us to set up a free initial consultation and work with one of Florida’s most experienced civil forfeiture defense attorneys.