$25K Currency Seizure, Trusted Traveler Revocation, Agriculture Seizures Top Busy Weekend for CBP at Philadelphia International Airport
PHILADEPHIA—Failing to truthfully declare items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agriculture specialists at Philadelphia International Airport proved to be expensive lessons for several travelers during a busy weekend.
CBP officers seized $25,720 from a Russian citizen Friday, and assessed a mitigated $1,000 penalty to a U.S. citizen Sunday who each violated federal currency reporting requirements, and saw a third traveler abandon three new Hermes bags valued at a combined $2,749. Also, CBP agriculture specialists assessed $300 to each of two travelers who repeatedly refused to declare prohibited food and plant products that they possessed.
The traveler with the undeclared Hermes bags also lost his Global Entry membership, CBP's trusted traveler program for low-risk international air passengers.
"The events of this weekend represent just a simple snapshot into what U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees do at our nation's 330 ports of entry every day to ensure respect for established U.S. laws, and to protect our citizens, our economy and our nation," said Paul Nardella, acting CBP port director for the area port of Philadelphia. "The one thing that we ask is for travelers be honest with us and truthfully declare what they are bringing to the U.S."
The Russian man first reported that he possessed $9,000 during a routine inspection Friday. He then amended that amount to $19,000 after CBP officers advised him that currency reporting requirement also covered personal and travelers checks. CBP officers then discovered a total of $27,448 during a baggage examination. The currency consisted of $17,220 in U.S. dollars, $250 in Australian dollars (equivalent to $228 USD) and a $10,000 personal check. CBP officers seized $15,720 in U.S. dollars and the check, and released the remainder to the traveler for humanitarian purposes. Officers also advised the traveler the process for petitioning for his currency, and then released him to continue his visit.
CBP officers assessed the mitigated $1,000 penalty Sunday after they discovered $17,579.43 in U.S. dollars and equivalent foreign currency during a baggage inspection. The U.S. man initially reported $4,000 in U.S. dollars and $4000 in Euros.
There is no limit to how much currency that travelers can bring into, or take out of the United States. However, travelers are required to report amounts of $10,000 or more in U.S. dollars, equivalent foreign currency, or other monetary instruments.
The former Global Entry trusted traveler arrived from Amsterdam Friday and was spotted carrying three new large Hermes bags that he refused to declare. In the man's carry-on, CBP officers discovered a receipt from a Hermes store for the purchase of $2,113 Euros of merchandise (equivalent to $2,749 USD). Officers assessed a penalty at the full value of the Hermes bags, but the traveler elected not to pay the penalty and abandoned the merchandise.
Protecting America's agriculture industry from potentially devastating animal and plant diseases and from invasive insect pests remains a priority for CBP agriculture specialists. As such, CBP affords travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully declare all agriculture products that they possess. Travelers who refuse to truthfully declare their agriculture products may face monetary penalties.
Two travelers were assessed $300 civil penalties each, an Indian citizen with raw peanuts, raw chickpeas and rice, and a Russian citizen with propagative seeds.
Privacy laws prohibit CBP from releasing their names as no subjects were criminally charged.
CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international passengers and cargo, and searches for terrorist weapons, illicit narcotics, unreported currency, counterfeit merchandise, and prohibited agriculture and other products.
For information on rules governing travel to and from the U.S., items that must be declared to CBP, and merchandise duty and duty exemptions, travelers are encouraged to visit CBP's Travel Web site.
To learn more about CBP's border security mission please visit the CBP Web site.