CBP seizes $170k in smuggled cash.

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Image of seized cash in bundles, hidden in tailgate. Source: CBP media relations website.

Earlier this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported a seizure of $170,000 dollars in money hidden in the tailgate of a pick-up truck.

According to the media release, the currency was wrapped in black tape and hidden within the tailgate of the truck.

CBP seized the money and the driver and passenger were placed into custody by Homeland Security Investigation special agents.


I’ve handled countless currency seizures and here are some answers to currency seizure questions you may or may not have:

Can they get the seized money back?
Most likely not – (1) because of the method taken to conceal the money, also, (2) the case was turned over to HSI instead of with CBP. If the case stayed with CBP, then they are dealing with FP&F. If a case is with HSI, then there’s likely no civil seizure petition method.

What do you have to show to get your seized money back?
Short version – you need to show legitimate source and use of funds. Every case is different, call David Hsu to discuss yours – 832.896.6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP Officers seize counterfeit iPhones.

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Photo of seized iPhones at Pembina. Source: cbp.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers at the Pembina officers seize counterfeit iPhones at the Pembina Port of Entry in North Dakota.

The iPhones were seized for being in violation of intellectual property rights (IPR) regulations. The shipment contained 39 cell phones with the Apple trademark and have a retail price of $31,200.

The rest of the media release talks about CBP enforcing intellectual property, how counterfeit goods funds criminal activity, and counterfeit goods may be made out of materials that are harmful to the health and safety of the users..

The article didn’t go into detail, but here are a few other things you should know from my handling of iPhone seizures:

  1. Usually the violation is for a counterfeit use of the iPhone wordmark or the Apple logo. The “Notice of Seizure” will tell you what was violated. You have to read this carefully and must respond within 30 days to a notice of seizure.
  2. You will also get a letter from Apple’s law firm asking you to stop importing iPhone goods.
  3. Be sure your address is current and accurate with CBP, they will only mail notices to the address on the shipment.
  4. If you get a Seizure Notice, you have 4 options: file a petition, offer in compromise, abandon the goods or refer to court.
  5. The value of the iPhones given by CBP will be much higher than you paid, as I believe they value the goods at the MSRP at the time they are first released.
  6. Why does the value matter? The value of the goods will be used to calculate any penalties. For example, civil penalties may be 3x the value of the shipment.
  7. CBP and Customs problems don’t go away – CBP has 5 years to go after an importer. CBP isn’t going away and neither will your seizure.

If you have had your shipment of iPhones seized, contact me. I’ve represented many cell phone importers of iPhones, Samsung and their accessories and there are things we can do but time is of the essence.

Contact me at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Customs seizes $3.7 million in counterfeit watches at JFK airport.

Seized Watches

Image of seized watches, source: CBP.gov website

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, Customs officers in mid-January seized a shipment of counterfeit watches from Hong Kong with an estimated manufacturer suggested retail price of $3.7 million dollars.

The watches seized infringed upon Rolex, Hublot, Nike, Michael Kors and other trademarks.

If you have had a shipment seized and Customs issued you a detention notice, seizure notice or you received a civil or criminal penalty, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288, office 713-932-1540 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

CBP Seizes $129k in counterfeit goods.

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Screenshot of seized goods. Source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers seized $129,000 worth of counterfeit consumer goods. The seizure occurred at Dulles International Airport in late December when someone picked up a shipment described as “shoes bags scars”.

CBP officers examined the shipment and found 90 items of designer brand name shoes, bags, purses, belts and scarves. The officers suspected the shipments to be counterfeit and detained the merchandise.

Typically – CBP will send photos to the trademark holder to verify authenticity.  And as expected, most (all) trademark holders will determine the items to be counterfeit.

If you have had a counterfeit seizure, currency seizure or other detention/seizure by Customs, contact experienced trade and seizure attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

ISPM 15 violation? Call now.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is increasing enforcement against wood packaging material (WPM) violations.

In short, WPM violations occur when CBP finds wood-boring pets in packaging material. If wood-boring pests or other invasive species are found, CBP will issue an “Emergency Action Notice” for violations of the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM-15).

The EAN will request re-export, however, we can help – call experienced WPM violation and wood-boring pest attorney, David Hsu immediately. We can help you, call anytime, 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

WPM violation cases are time sensitive, call now!

Is US Customs and Border Protection shut down during the government shutdown?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Short answer – not really. 54,935 of the 60,109 total CBP employees are designated as exempt and will be working (although without pay). These 54,935 CBP workers along with an approximate 33,065 Department of Homeland Security employees comprise about 88,000 workers reporting for work without pay during the shutdown (but will get back pay after the shutdown ends).

Border patrol agents, border operations at the over 400+ ports of entry will continue to function. However, if you read this blog, you may notice I often get my information from the CBP media release page, and since the shutdown, nothing has been posted by CBP.

Check back for any other CBP shut down news that may impact you and your business.

Importer Alert – CBP enforcing wood packaging material regulations.

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Photo by Sascha Hormel on Pexels.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers along with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officers in Houston are strictly enforcing the USDA’s prohibition of non compliant wood packaging material (WPM).

Non compliant materials are typically ordered for immediate exportation along with any associated cargo in the same bill of lading. CBP and USDA officers typically find WPM non compliant if evidence of prohibited live insects is found during inspection. If any invasive species such as a wood boring wasp or other insects and larvae are found during inspection, CBP/USDA will issue an Emergency Action Notice ordering the cargo to typically be exported in 7 days for repackaging and/or fumigation.

A finding of noncompliance will have a detrimental impact on shippers, importers, consignees and the resulting delay in reexportation can cause major problems for time sensitive project cargo.

If you or someone  you know has had a WPM issue with the presence of larvae or living insects or if you  have received an emergency action notice – contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com

US Customs seizes Khat at Dulles Int’l airport.

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Screenshot of the seized khat. Credit: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection press release, CBP officers at Dulles International Airport seized 78 pounds of khat from Nigeria.

Khat is a green leafy plant grown in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and chewed to create a stimulant effect. Since 1980, the WHO has considered khat as a drug of abuse. The active ingredient in khat is a psychoactive component called “cathinone”. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifieds cathinone as a schedule 1 drug.

CBP officers have seized nearly a ton of Khat since the start of the year.

If you or anyone you know has had items detained or seized by  customs, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at attorney.dave@yahoo.com or by phone at 832-896-6288. There are certain deadlines that Customs requires you to follow – call today!

CBP and searching your electronic devices.

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

According to an Associated Press article, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers searching electronic devices of travelers more often.

A local watchdog report made available today indicated there were 29,000 devices searched in 2017, up from the 18,400 the year before. CBP officials claim the travelers searched represent less than 1 percent of all travelers (ie, 18,400 searches out of 390 million travelers).

In general, travelers are required to hand over their electronic devices for inspection if they are referred to secondary inspection. Secondary inspection is after primary inspection (travel documents and passports). During secondary inspection, CBP may search phones, thumb drives, and computers.

A Office of the Inspector General for Homeland Security report found that some searches were not properly documented or conducted – for example, devices were not taken offline before hand. In general, CBP cannot access your information that is on a cloud network.

Will update again if/when CBP publishes a review process for searching electronic devices of travelers.

If you or anyone you know has had an item detained or seized by CBP, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

$1.7 million in fake Nike shoes seized by CBP.

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Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

According to the CBP media release, CBP officers in New York/Newark seized nearly 9,024 pairs of counterfeit Nike speakers. If genuine Nike products, the total value of the shipment equaled almost $1.7 million dollars.

The shipment of sneakers was from Dongguan City. Dongguan is a city in Guangdong (Canton) Province and borders Shenzhen and Hong Kong. When CBP suspects goods to be counterfeit, CBP will take photos and submit the photos or samples to the trademark holder. In this case CBP’s Apparel Footwear and Textiles Center for Excellence and Expertise sent the images to Nike where the images were determined to represent fake shoes.

The rest of the news release mentions ICE and Homeland Security Investigations will continue to investigate and look into the destination address in Chino, California. Given the value of the funds and the referral to ICE and HSI, it is likely CBP will look further into this shipment and may involve criminal charges for the importer of record.

If you have had your shipment seized on the basis of suspected counterfeit goods, or if you receive a penalty notice or seizure notice, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate assistance.