1005 N. Marion St.
Tampa, FL 33602
813.250.0500

Attorney for CBP Forfeitures in Florida

Over the past four years, agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have seized more than four billion dollars worth of property that was allegedly used in crimes.

The amount of property seized can be confirmed by looking at the government’s massive database called the “Seized Asset and Case Tracking System” or “SEACATS.”

For travelers preparing to board an international or domestic flight, U.S. Currency is seized by federal agents with HSI or CBP at the airport, including the Tampa International Airport.

The most commonly seized asset is cash or currency, but all different types of property can be seized including firearms, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, vessels, and aircraft.

Attorneys for Seizures by CBP Agents in Tampa, FL

Our federal asset forfeiture attorneys have represented clients in a variety of cases including HSI federal agents that seized less than $10,000 in cash or property or cases involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. No matter the value of property seized, an attorney can help you fight to get the property back with interest.

If your property was seized by agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) or U.S. Customs and Board Protection (CBP), then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, at Sammis Law Firm.

Call 813-250-0500.


Rules for Seizures by Federal Agents with CBP

According to the SEACATS Privacy Impact Assessment from 2017, “Once an arrest or seizure case is initiated, the initiating officer must submit the incident report in SEACATS to his or her supervisor within 24 hours of the arrest.”

According to ICE’s 2010 Homeland Security Investigations Handbook, agents are given advice on the best way to seize property. The handbook provides: “As a general rule, if total liabilities and costs incurred in seizing a real property or business exceed the value of the property, the property should not be seized.”


Detentions of Goods or Merchandise by CBP

If an examination by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is related to trade compliance, the goods or merchandise may be inspected for the following types of concerns:

  • compliance with the regulatory requirements imposed by other federal agencies including:
    • the CBP (including seizures by agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI);
    • the ATF;
    • the IRS;
    • the DEA; or
    • the FBI.
  • intellectual property rights (IPR) issues or violations for marks or trademarks;
  • improper labeling of the goods;
  • improper markings of the goods;
  • improper origin claims;
  • the valuation or classification of the goods;
  • improper reporting on invoices for quantity or descriptions; or
  • safety issues.

If the issues impact the admissibility of the goods or merchandise, then the CBP might be required to detain and seize the goods or merchandise.

Within five days of arrival, goods might be “detained” by federal agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Within five days after the detention begins, the CBP must issue a formal “Notice of Detention.”

As a practical matter, this typically requires the “Notice of Detention by CBP” to be issued within a total of 10 days after arrival, excluding weekends and holidays.

If the federal agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection do not follow each of the rules, it often gives the claimant’s attorney the best chances of getting the property returned quickly, sometimes with the agency being forced to pay interest and attorney fees.

The Notice of Detention issued by CBP must explain:

  • the specific reason why CBP detained the goods or merchandise;
  • the nature of any tests or inquiries to be conducted; and
  • the nature of any information that, if supplied to CBP, will speed up the disposition of the detention.

If the issues are not resolved, the detention might turn into a seizure case.  The issuance of a seizure notice is necessary to begin the legal process for the forfeiture of the importer’s goods or merchandise. The importer then has the opportunity to make a claim for court action or judicial review which is the best way to get the goods back quickly.

If the importer doesn’t act quickly, the goods or merchandise may be sent for auction or destruction.


Additional Resources

Property Seized by Agents with the U.S. Customs and Board Protection (CBP) – Visit the website of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to learn more from the CBP Information Center about Securing America’s Borders. Learn more about the status of seized property and how you can fight for its return. Find answers to questions about what to do if your property was seized or taken by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). After the seizure, the case is then referred to the Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures (FP&F) office within three working days. The FP&F Officer then sends any interested parties a notice of seizure.

How the CBP Official Notification is Posted – Search the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) legal notice published each week online on the centralized www.forfeiture.gov website for forfeiture actions across all federal agencies. The CBP is required to give the proper notice that the property listed on the notification was seized for federal forfeiture for violation of federal law. The public can find the rules, procedures, and laws that apply to the forfeiture process listed on the website or in 19 U.S.C. Sections 1602 – 1619, 18 U.S.C. Section 983, and 28 C.F.R. Parts 8 and 9.


This article was last updated on Thursday, February 6, 2020.

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