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Did you know that the United States Postal Inspection Service
(USPIS) can seize packages in much the same manner as
United States Customs and Border Patrol (USCBP)? Just as
USCBP can seize any illicit property at an airport or border
crossing, USPIS can seize illicit property that goes through the
The United States Postal Inspection Service is an old but little
known branch of United States law enforcement. Just like any
other law enforcement agency, USPIS can serve and execute
warrants, make arrests, and more. With a warrant, USPIS can
open and inspect first class mail.Time is usually of the essence
with postal investigations, so warrants are often obtained and issued quickly. To get a warrant, the
officer need only convince a judge or magistrate that there is probable cause the letter or package is
involved with a crime. In general, probable cause roughly amounts to reasonable likelihood – for
example, a simple alert by a drug dog often satisfies this requirement. Such an alert would thus give
USPIS authority to search that package, resulting in at least a delay in mailing if not an outright
seizure or arrest. Moreover, USPIS can inspect other classes of mail without a warrant, since they are
not considered private correspondence. USPIS inspects mail to search for mail fraud, weapons, weapons,
harmful or terrorism-related materials, and narcotics.
U.S. Customs Money Seizure
Are you the Victim of a US Customs Money Seizure?
Many American citizens traveling abroad are unaware of the requirement to report the transportation
of U.S or foreign currency. In fact, U.S law requires that any currency or other monetary equivalents
that exceed a $10,000.00 threshold must be reported directly to U.S Customs and Border Security prior to
entering or leaving the country. The consequences for violating the law can be severe, and may include the
seizure of the assets as well as other penalties. In a global environment of escalating crime and the
threat of terrorism, U.S. Customs agents are particularly sensitive to large, unreported sums of cash
entering or leaving the country.
The Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act (CFTRA) specifically outlines the currencies and
the other “monetary instruments” that must be reported. This includes cash and coins of domestic or
foreign origin as well as traveler’s checks. Any negotiable instruments that can be transferred to another
legal entity such as money orders, checks, stocks, promissory notes and securities are all subject to the
provisions of the Act.
There are exclusions in the law that exempts certain elements with transferable value. This would include
bills of lading, warehouse receipts, and checks or money orders which have either not been endorsed or
have endorsements with restrictions.
How to File a Proper Report
U.S. Citizens are not prohibited from carrying sums in excess of $10,000.00 in or out of the
country. Regardless of the monetary value, the reporting requirement can be satisfied by filing FinCEN
Form 105 which is available through the U.S. Customs and Border protection department. There are no
associated custom duties, fees, or taxes that must be paid to transport currency. Filing the appropriate
form completely satisfies any legal obligations.
When Funds are Confiscated
Involuntary seizure of currency or other monetary assets usually results from a failure to file the proper
form or including erroneous information in the text. In most instances, the violation was a result of a
lack of knowledge relating to the reporting requirement. On other occasions, customs officials may
misinterpret the intent of the seizure regulations.
Time is of the essence in currency seizure cases and it is important to immediately file a petition for
relief. The longer the money remains in the custody of U.S. Customs, the more likely that the assets will
be forfeited to the government.
Customs seizure law is complex, and it is important to have experienced legal representation throughout
the process. Most of the currency that is seized will ultimately be forfeited to the government, primarily
due to a lack of aggressive recovery efforts. This is an area of the law where an attorney with expertise
can prove extremely valuable.
Seizure of Goods
Customs has the power to seize either money or goods if they are transported in violation of federal law
(i.e the Seizure of Goods). The violation of federal law can be that the goods are stolen, smuggled,
contraband, violate court order or trademark, or are a hazard to public safety. Under 19 USC § 1595a,
the penalties section, some imports that are “contrary to law” mandate forfeiture, and some authorize
Pursuant to 19 USC 1618, a person with an interest in seized goods may file a petition for remission of
the fine, penalty, or seizure. The petitioner has the burden in this petition. A petitioner must prove that the
penalty was incurred without willful negligence, without intent to defraud the revenue of the US of
violate the law, or mitigating circumstances exist that would justify remission.
Our experienced attorneys can file a Petition on your behalf and work to demonstrate these burdens
pursuant to CFR 171.1 and CFR 171.2. It is important to get an attorney and firm such as ourselves
involved right away, even during the investigation period. At times statements you make even prior to the
seizure can be used against you and prejudice your case. Our attorneys can guide you through the process
from start to finish.
If you are in a position where your Petition has already been rejected, we might be able to get you a
second bite at the apple. In some situations, a supplemental petition can be filed after a denial.
Alternatively, if you have learned more through the process and think that Customs has a stronger case,
we may be able to make an offer in compromise on your behalf to attempt to mitigate the loss.
Can I Get My Money Back?
Our attorneys are regularly able to recover the monies you had seized. Offering nationwide legal
assistance, we will prepare the administrative petitions and negotiate with the U.S. Customs and Border
Patrol to see that you are returned your seized cash. Our firm is so confident that we will succeed we offer
a No Fee Guarantee*. Thus, you will not owe our firm an attorney fee if we cannot recover your
money. If your Petition has already been denied, and your circumstances warrant it, we can even appeal
your case to federal court. Our Goal is to Get You Your Money Back.
Time is of the essence, Call Now!
If your cash or property was seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and you fail to act in a
timely manner, then you will automatically lose. Time is of the essence, and in most cases you must file a
petition within 30 days of the seizure notice. Nationwide call our Attorneys at 877-406-6906 for
a free consultation.
Garmo & Kiste, PLC
50 W. Big Beaver Road, Suite 240
Troy, Michigan 48084
Fax: (248) 436-6829
100 Andover Park W, Suite 150
Tukwila, Washington 98188
Telephone: (877) 406-6906
Fax: (248) 436-6829