December 2011

Bank Account Seizures by ICE and DEA for Money Laundering

This past year has seen an explosion of seizures of bank accounts by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for alleged trade-based money laundering or “structuring”. In 2011, I have handled these cases in Miami, New York, San Diego, Boston, Phoenix, San Juan, and Norfolk.  The funds in the bank accounts are taken when the bank is served with a Seizure Warrant signed by a United States Magistrate Judge, based upon an affidavit prepared by the DEA or ICE Agent.  

Typically, the bank (and its customer) do not get to see the Affidavit because the criminal proceeding is ongoing, and the Affidavit is sealed.  The Seizure Warrant itself typically alleges that the money is subject to seizure because it is the proceeds of drug activity in violation of 21 U.S.C. 881 and 18 U.S.C. 1956. 

A related legal basis for the seizure of bank accounts is ‘structuring’ – the deposit of $10,000 or less in cash repeatedly in a bank account to avoid the filing by the bank of a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen), U.S. Department of the Treasury .  See 31 CFR 1010.314.  A CTR is FinCen Form 104.  A CTR is required to be filed by all banks whenever a deposit of cash over $10,000 is made in a single day into a single account or by […]

By |2021-03-26T14:38:05-04:00December 30, 2011|Best Practices, Seizure|0 Comments

CBP Commissioner Bersin Tenders Resignation Effective December 30


Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Alan Bersin has announced his resignation effective December 30. Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar is slated to serve as Acting Commissioner.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Bersin said he was grateful for the chance to lead CBP.

“My service as commissioner has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my public life,” Bersin said Thursday. “I am immensely proud of the significant and meaningful achievements we have made on our borders and at our nation’s ports of entry over nearly two years.”

Bersin’s recess appointment term expires Dec. 31.

Will YOUR Tariff be Changed in the 2012 Update??

One way to find out!

CSMS #11-000317, dated December 21, 2011, advises brokers that the 2011/2011 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) will contain many changes. 

Specifically, the notice states:

To: Automated Broker Interface

Harmonized System Update (HSU) 1108 was created on December 20, 2011 and contains 577 ABI
records and 118 harmonized tariff records.

Changes were made as a result of the 484 (F) Committee. The Committee for the Statistical Annotation of the Tariff Schedules mandated modifications effective January 1, 2012.

As always, these changes will be included in the 2012 USHTS. However, at this time, please contact your client representative for questions regarding specific records.

Adjustments required by the verification of the 2011 Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) were made as well.

The modified records are currently available to all ABI participants and can be retrieved electronically via the procedures indicated in the CATAIR. For further information about this process, please contact your client representative. For all other questions regarding this message, please contact Jennifer Keeling via email at

The prelimary 2012 HTSUS is out!  Time to check your tariffs for the new year.

Did your tariff change?

NEW CBP Technology To Increase Efficiencies at Port Miami


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is set to launch Enforcement Link to Mobile Operations (ELMOcargo) at the Port of Miami. This technology will allow CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists to release inspected cargo in real-time.

Currently, CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists conduct inspections on site, but the subsequent release of cargo is delayed until field personnel return to the office and enter inspection results into their data systems.

With the implementation of ELMOcargo, field officers using handheld devices will be able to immediately clear containers. This device speeds up release time by up to four hours making operations more efficient while continuing to keep the Port secure.

CBP Agriculture Specialist recently started using this new technology as a pilot at other Florida ports and agreed to expand the program to Port Miami starting in January 2012.

About the Port of Miami
The Port of Miami is among America’s busiest ports and recognized across the globe with the dual distinction of being the Cruise Capital of the World and the Cargo Gateway of the Americas. The Port of Miami contributes more than $18 billion annually to the South Florida economy and helps provide direct and indirect employment for more than 180,000.

Andria C. Muñiz

NAFTA and Mexican Government Questionnaires to U.S. Exporters

In the past year, the Mexican Government (SAT) has issued questionnaires to exporters from the United States which provided a NAFTA Certificate of Origin to the Mexican importer. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Certificate of Origin is always created and signed by the U.S. exporter or producer, and always provided to the Mexican importer at the time of importation so that the Mexican importer may importer the merchandise into Mexico without paying any customs duties.    Years later, the Mexican Government may send a questionnaire to first the U.S. exporter, and then the Mexican importer, demanding proof that the merchandise really “originated” in the United States and properly entered Mexico without any payment of customs duties.

The problems are (1) the U.S. exporter falsely completed the NAFTA Certificate of origin either intentionally or by ignorance, (2) the U.S. exporter relied on the U.S. producer who provided misleading information to the U.S. exporter, or (3) the records establishing that the merchandise originated in the United States are not available.

I usually recommend the U.S. exporter who received a letter from the SAT of the Mexican Government to respond. Moreover, it is best to seek the assistance of the supplier of the merchandise to the U.S. exporter and the Mexican importer. If the questionnaire is not answered properly and timely, the SAT will deny the NAFTA preferential treatment, and demand payment of customs duties, late fees, interest, and penalties from the Mexican importer, plus perhaps antidumping duties.  The Mexican importer may end […]

By |2015-12-01T06:46:23-05:00December 13, 2011|NAFTA|0 Comments


Go to Top