Santa Teresa, New Mexico - U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working outbound operations at the Santa Teresa port of entry seized 17 vehicles and assessed penalties totaling $93,500 on Friday.
The discovery was made when CBP officers, conducting routine outbound enforcement operations in the vehicle export facility, detected issues with the paperwork linked to several vehicles destined for Mexico. Further investigation resulted in the seizure of 17 vehicles attempting to circumvent the CBP exportation process by presenting fraudulent export paperwork. Each of the 17 violations carries a fine of $5,500. A total of $93,500 in fines and penalties were assessed against the exporter. All 17 vehicles were also seized by CBP.
"This entire episode is curious because there was really nothing to gain here other than a small savings in time," said CBP Santa Teresa assistant port director Fred Hutterer. "CBP does not charge a fee to process vehicles for export."
The CBP vehicle export process is fairly simple. An exporter presents his original certificate of title or certified copy of the certificate of title and the CBP export cover sheet with the vehicle's information (VIN/make/model) to CBP officers. The copies are date and time stamped which initiates the 72-hour requirement of the vehicle to remain in the United States prior to the formal export. During this 72-hour window CBP performs a series of checks to make sure the vehicle is eligible for export. After the 72 hours have elapsed the exporter will present the original title and the vehicle to CBP for verification. Once CBP determines that all requirements have been met the vehicle can be exported.
CBP officers at the Santa Teresa port process approximately 36,000 vehicles for export annually. The Santa Teresa port of entry is the only designated vehicle export location in the El Paso area.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our Nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.