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Enforcement
This law is codified in Chapter 4 of Title 19 of the U.S. Code, with the rest of the Tariff Act of 1930. Note however that most of the provisions identified with that act had predecessors in earlier statutes, nearly all have been significantly modified by numerous laws enacted since 1930, and several were not enacted until well after 1930.  

 

 


See also the CENTRAL guide to Trade Laws of the United States.

 

Other topics in the Tariff Act of 1930 include (in rough order of importance): 

Note that this is not an exhaustive listing. Some items in the Tariff Act of 1930 are not included here due to their obscurity, declining relevance, or because they have been superseded in law or practice by other provisions of trade law.

 

 


Part V—Enforcement Provisions

§1581. Boarding vessels

(a) Customs officers

Any officer of the customs may at any time go on board of any vessel or vehicle at any place in the United States or within the customs waters or, as he may be authorized, within a customs-enforcement area established under the Anti-Smuggling Act [19 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.], or at any other authorized place, without as well as within his district, and examine the manifest and other documents and papers and examine, inspect, and search the vessel or vehicle and every part thereof and any person, trunk, package, or cargo on board, and to this end may hail and stop such vessel or vehicle, and use all necessary force to compel compliance.

(b) Officers of Department of the Treasury

Officers of the Department of the Treasury and other persons authorized by such department may go on board of any vessel at any place in the United States or within the customs waters and hail, stop, and board such vessel in the enforcement of the navigation laws and arrest or, in case of escape or attempted escape, pursue and arrest any person engaged in the breach or violation of the navigation laws.

(c) Penalty for presenting forged, altered, or false documents

Any master of a vessel being examined as herein provided, who presents any forged, altered, or false document or paper to the examining officer, knowing the same to be forged, altered, or false and without revealing the fact shall, in addition to any forfeiture to which in consequence the vessel may be subject, be liable to a fine of not more than $5,000 nor less than $500.

(d) Penalty for failure to stop at command

Any vessel or vehicle which, at any authorized place, is directed to come to a stop by any officer of the customs, or is directed to come to a stop by signal made by any vessel employed in the service of the customs and displaying proper insignia, shall come to a stop, and upon failure to comply a vessel or vehicle so directed to come to a stop shall become subject to pursuit and the master, owner, operator, or person in charge thereof shall be liable to a penalty of not more than $5,000 nor less than $1,000.

(e) Seizure of vessel or merchandise

If upon the examination of any vessel or vehicle it shall appear that a breach of the laws of the United States is being or has been committed so as to render such vessel or vehicle, or the merchandise, or any part thereof, on board of, or brought into the United States by, such vessel or vehicle, liable to forfeiture or to secure any fine or penalty, the same shall be seized and any person who has engaged in such breach shall be arrested.

(f) Duty of customs officers to seize vessel

It shall be the duty of the several officers of the customs to seize and secure any vessel, vehicle, or merchandise which shall become liable to seizure, and to arrest any person who shall become liable to arrest, by virtue of any law respecting the revenue, as well without as within their respective districts, and to use all necessary force to seize or arrest the same.

(g) Vessels deemed employed within United States

Any vessel, within or without the customs waters, from which any merchandise is being, or has been, unlawfully introduced into the United States by means of any boat belonging to, or owned, controlled, or managed in common with, said vessel, shall be deemed to be employed within the United States and, as such, subject to the provisions of this section.

(h) Application of section to treaties of United States

The provisions of this section shall not be construed to authorize or require any officer of the United States to enforce any law of the United States upon the high seas upon a foreign vessel in contravention of any treaty with a foreign government enabling or permitting the authorities of the United States to board, examine, search, seize, or otherwise to enforce upon said vessel upon the high seas the laws of the United States except as such authorities are or may otherwise be enabled or permitted under special arrangement with such foreign government.

 

§1582. Search of persons and baggage; regulations

The Secretary of the Treasury may prescribe regulations for the search of persons and baggage and he is authorized to employ female inspectors for the examination and search of persons of their own sex; and all persons coming into the United States from foreign countries shall be liable to detention and search by authorized officers or agents of the Government under such regulations.

 

§1583. Examination of outbound mail

(a) Examination

(1) In general

For purposes of ensuring compliance with the Customs laws of the United States and other laws enforced by the Customs Service, including the provisions of law described in paragraph (2), a Customs officer may, subject to the provisions of this section, stop and search at the border, without a search warrant, mail of domestic origin transmitted for export by the United States Postal Service and foreign mail transiting the United States that is being imported or exported by the United States Postal Service.

(2) Provisions of law described

The provisions of law described in this paragraph are the following:

(A) Section 5316 of title 31 (relating to reports on exporting and importing monetary instruments).

(B) Sections 1461, 1463, 1465, and 1466, and chapter 110 of title 18 (relating to obscenity and child pornography).

(C) Section 953 of title 21 (relating to exportation of controlled substances).

(D) The Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2401 et seq.).

(E) Section 2778 of title 22.

(F) The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).

(b) Search of mail not sealed against inspection and other mail

Mail not sealed against inspection under the postal laws and regulations of the United States, mail which bears a Customs declaration, and mail with respect to which the sender or addressee has consented in writing to search, may be searched by a Customs officer.

(c) Search of mail sealed against inspection weighing in excess of 16 ounces

(1) In general

Mail weighing in excess of 16 ounces sealed against inspection under the postal laws and regulations of the United States may be searched by a Customs officer, subject to paragraph (2), if there is reasonable cause to suspect that such mail contains one or more of the following:

(A) Monetary instruments, as defined in section 1956 of title 18.

(B) A weapon of mass destruction, as defined in section 2332a(b) 1 of title 18.

(C) A drug or other substance listed in schedule I, II, III, or IV in section 812 of title 21.

(D) National defense and related information transmitted in violation of any of sections 793 through 798 of title 18.

(E) Merchandise mailed in violation of section 1715 or 1716 of title 18.

(F) Merchandise mailed in violation of any provision of chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or chapter 110 (relating to sexual exploitation and other abuse of children) of title 18.

(G) Merchandise mailed in violation of the Export Administration Act of 1979 (50 U.S.C. App. 2401 et seq.).

(H) Merchandise mailed in violation of section 2778 of title 22.

(I) Merchandise mailed in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.).

(J) Merchandise mailed in violation of the Trading with the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C. App. 1 et seq.).

(K) Merchandise subject to any other law enforced by the Customs Service.

(2) Limitation

No person acting under the authority of paragraph (1) shall read, or authorize any other person to read, any correspondence contained in mail sealed against inspection unless prior to so reading—

(A) a search warrant has been issued pursuant to rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure; or

(B) the sender or addressee has given written authorization for such reading.

(d) Search of mail sealed against inspection weighing 16 ounces or less

Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, subsection (a)(1) of this section shall not apply to mail weighing 16 ounces or less sealed against inspection under the postal laws and regulations of the United States.

 

§1584. Falsity or lack of manifest; penalties

(a) General rule

(1) Any master of any vessel and any person in charge of any vehicle bound to the United States who does not produce the manifest to the officer (whether of the Customs Service or the Coast Guard) demanding the same shall be liable to a penalty of $1,000, and if any merchandise, including sea stores, is found on board of or after having been unladen from such vessel or vehicle which is not included or described in said manifest or does not agree therewith, the master of such vessel or the person in charge of such vehicle or the owner of such vessel or vehicle or any person directly or indirectly responsible for any discrepancy between the merchandise and said manifest shall be liable to a penalty equal to the lesser of $10,000 or the domestic value of the merchandise so found or unladen, and any such merchandise belonging or consigned to the master or other officer or to any of the crew of such vessel, or to the owner or person in charge of such vehicle, shall be subject to forfeiture, and if any merchandise described in such manifest is not found on board the vessel or vehicle the master or other person in charge or the owner of such vessel or vehicle or any person directly or indirectly responsible for any discrepancy between the merchandise and said manifest shall be subject to a penalty of $1,000: Provided, That if the Customs Service shall be satisfied that the manifest was lost or mislaid without intentional fraud, or was defaced by accident, or is incorrect by reason of clerical error or other mistake and that no part of the merchandise not found on board was unshipped or discharged except as specified in the report of the master, said penalties shall not be incurred. For purposes of this subsection, the term “clerical error” means a nonnegligent, inadvertent, or typographical mistake in the preparation, assembly, or submission (electronically or otherwise) of the manifest.

(2) If any of such merchandise so found consists of heroin, morphine, cocaine, isonipecaine, or opiate, the master of such vessel or person in charge of such vehicle or the owner of such vessel or vehicle or any person directly or indirectly responsible for heroin, morphine, cocaine, isonipecaine, or opiate being in such merchandise shall be liable to a penalty of $1,000 for each ounce thereof so found. If any of such merchandise so found consists of smoking opium, opium prepared for smoking, or marihuana, the master of such vessel or person in charge of such vehicle or the owner of such vessel or vehicle or any person directly or indirectly responsible for smoking opium, opium prepared for smoking, or marihuana being in such merchandise shall be liable to a penalty of $500 for each ounce thereof so found. If any of such merchandise so found consists of crude opium, the master of such vessel or person in charge of such vehicle or the owner of such vessel or vehicle or any person directly or indirectly responsible for crude opium being in such merchandise shall be liable to a penalty of $200 for each ounce thereof so found. Such penalties shall, notwithstanding the proviso in section 1594 of this title (relating to the immunity of vessels or vehicles used as common carriers), constitute a lien upon such vessel which may be enforced by a libel in rem; except that the master or owner of a vessel used by any person as a common carrier in the transaction of business as such common carrier shall not be liable to such penalties and the vessel shall not be held subject to the lien, if it appears to the satisfaction of the court that neither the master nor any of the officers (including licensed and unlicensed officers and petty officers) nor the owner of the vessel knew, and could not, by the exercise of the highest degree of care and diligence, have known, that such narcotic drugs were on board. Clearance of any such vessel may be withheld until such penalties are paid or until a bond, satisfactory to the Customs Service, is given for the payment thereof. The provisions of this paragraph shall not prevent the forfeiture of any such vessel or vehicle under any other provision of law. As used in this paragraph, the terms “opiate” and “marihuana” shall have the same meaning given those terms by sections 802(18) and 802(16), respectively, of title 21.

(3) If any of such merchandise (sea stores excepted), the importation of which into the United States is prohibited, be so found upon any vessel not exceeding five hundred net tons, the vessel shall, in addition to any other penalties herein or by law provided, be seized and forfeited.

(b) Procedures

(1) If the Customs Service has reasonable cause to believe that there has been a violation of subsection (a)(1) of this section and determines that further proceedings are warranted, the Customs Service shall issue or electronically transmit to the person concerned a notice of intent to issue or electronically transmit a claim for a monetary penalty. Such notice shall—

(A) describe the merchandise;

(B) set forth the details of the error in the manifest;

(C) specify all laws and regulations allegedly violated;

(D) disclose all the material facts which establish the alleged violation;

(E) state the estimated loss of lawful duties, if any, and, taking into account all of the circumstances, the amount of the proposed monetary penalty; and

(F) inform such person that he will have a reasonable opportunity to make representations, both oral and written, as to why such penalty claim should not be issued.

No notice is required under this subsection for any violation of subsection (a)(1) of this section for which the proposed penalty is $1,000 or less.

(2) After considering representations, if any, made by the person concerned pursuant to the notice issued under paragraph (1), the Customs Service shall determine whether any violation of subsection (a)(1) of this section, as alleged in the notice, has occurred. If the Customs Service determines that there was no violation, the Customs Service shall promptly issue or electronically transmit a statement of the determination to the person to whom the notice was sent. If the Customs Service determines that there was a violation, the Customs Service shall issue or electronically transmit a penalty claim to such person. The penalty claim shall specify all changes in the information provided under subparagraphs (A) through (E) of paragraph (1).

 

§1585. Repealed. Pub. L. 103–182, title VI, §690(b)(10), Dec. 8, 1993, 107 Stat. 2223

 

§1586. Unlawful unlading or transshipment

(a) Penalty for unlading prior to grant of permission

The master of any vessel from a foreign port or place, or of a hovering vessel which has received or delivered merchandise while outside the territorial sea, who allows any merchandise (including sea stores) to be unladen from such vessel at any time after its arrival within the customs waters and before such vessel has come to the proper place for the discharge of such merchandise, and before he has received a permit to unlade, shall be liable to a penalty equal to twice the value of the merchandise but not less than $10,000, and such vessel and its cargo and the merchandise so unladen shall be seized and forfeited.

(b) Penalty for transshipment to any vessel for purpose of unlawful entry

The master of any vessel from a foreign port or place, or of a hovering vessel which has received or delivered merchandise while outside the territorial sea, who allows any merchandise (including sea stores), the importation of which into the United States is prohibited, or which consists of any spirits, wines, or other alcoholic liquors, to be unladen from his vessel at any place upon the high seas adjacent to the customs waters of the United States to be transshipped to or placed in or received on any vessel of any description, with knowledge, or under circumstances indicating the purpose to render it possible, that such merchandise, or any part thereof, may be introduced, or attempted to be introduced, into the United States in violation of law, shall be liable to a penalty equal to twice the value of the merchandise but not less than $10,000, and the vessel from which the merchandise is so unladen, and its cargo and such merchandise, shall be seized and forfeited.

(c) Penalty for unlawful transshipment to any vessel of United States

The master of any vessel from a foreign port or place, or of a hovering vessel which has received or delivered merchandise while outside the territorial sea, who allows any merchandise (including sea stores) destined to the United States, the importation of which into the United States is prohibited, or which consists of any spirits, wines, or other alcoholic liquors, to be unladen, without permit to unlade, at any place upon the high seas adjacent to the customs waters of the United States, to be transshipped to or placed in or received on any vessel of the United States or any other vessel which is owned by any person a citizen of, or domiciled in, the United States, or any corporation incorporated in the United States, shall be liable to a penalty equal to twice the value of the merchandise but not less than $10,000, and the vessel from which the merchandise is so unladen, and its cargo and such merchandise, shall be seized and forfeited.

(d) Liability of master of receiving vessel in unlawful transshipment

If any merchandise (including sea stores) unladen in violation of the provisions of this section is transshipped to or placed in or received on any other vessel, the master of the vessel on which such merchandise is placed, and any person aiding or assisting therein, shall be liable to a penalty equal to twice the value of the merchandise, but not less than $10,000, and such vessel, and its cargo and such merchandise, shall be seized and forfeited.

(e) Imprisonment of persons aiding in unlawful unlading or transshipment

Whoever, at any place, if a citizen of the United States, or at any place in the United States or within customs waters, if a foreign national, shall engage or aid or assist in any unlading or transshipment of any merchandise in consequence of which any vessel becomes subject to forfeiture under the provisions of this section shall, in addition to any other penalties provided by law, be liable to imprisonment for not more than 15 years.

(f) Unlading or transshipment because of accident, stress of weather, etc.

Whenever any part of the cargo or stores of a vessel has been unladen or transshipped because of accident, stress of weather, or other necessity, the master of such vessel and the master of any vessel to which such cargo or stores has been transshipped shall, as soon as possible thereafter, notify the Customs Service at the district within which such unlading or transshipment has occurred, or the Customs Service at the district at which such vessel shall first arrive thereafter, and shall furnish proof that such unlading or transshipment was made necessary by accident, stress of weather, or other unavoidable cause, and if the Customs Service is satisfied that the unlading or transshipment was in fact due to accident, stress of weather, or other necessity, the penalties described in this section shall not be incurred.

 

§1587. Examination of hovering vessels

(a) Boarding and examination

Any hovering vessel, or any vessel which fails (except for unavoidable cause), at any place within the customs waters or within a customs-enforcement area established under the Anti-Smuggling Act [19 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.], to display lights as required by law, or which has become subject to pursuit as provided in section 1581 of this title, or which, being a foreign vessel to which subsection (h) of section 1581 of this title applies, is permitted by special arrangement with a foreign government to be so examined without the customs waters of the United States, may at any time be boarded and examined by any officer of the customs, and the provisions of said section 1581 shall apply thereto, as well without as within his district, and in examining the same, any such officer may also examine the master upon oath respecting the cargo and voyage of the vessel, and may also bring the vessel into the most convenient port of the United States to examine the cargo, and if the master of said vessel refuses to comply with the lawful directions of such officer or does not truly answer such questions as are put to him respecting the vessel, its cargo, or voyage, he shall be liable to a penalty of not more than $5,000 nor less than $500. If, upon the examination of any such vessel or its cargo by any officer of the customs, any dutiable merchandise destined to the United States is found, or discovered to have been, on board thereof, the vessel and its cargo shall be seized and forfeited. It shall be presumed that any merchandise (sea stores excepted), the importation of which into the United States is prohibited, or which consists of any spirits, wines, or other alcoholic liquors, so found, or discovered to have been, on board thereof, is destined to the United States.

(b) Unexplained lightness of vessel or discharge of cargo

If any vessel laden with cargo be found at any place in the United States or within the customs waters or within a customs-enforcement area established under the Anti-Smuggling Act [19 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.] and such vessel afterwards is found light or in ballast or having discharged its cargo or any part thereof, and the master is unable to give a due account of the port or place at which the cargo, or any part thereof, consisting of any merchandise the importation of which into the United States is prohibited or any spirits, wines, or other alcoholic liquors, was lawfully discharged, the vessel shall be seized and forfeited.

(c) Vessel bona fide bound from one foreign port to another foreign port

Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to render any vessel liable to forfeiture which is bona fide bound from one foreign port to another foreign port, and which is pursuing her course, wind and weather permitting.

 

§1588. Transportation between American ports via foreign ports

If any merchandise is laden at any port or place in the United States upon any vessel belonging wholly or in part to a subject of a foreign country, and is taken thence to a foreign port or place to be reladen and reshipped to any other port in the United States, either by the same or by another vessel, foreign or American, with intent to evade the provisions relating to the transportation of merchandise from one port or place of the United States to another port or place of the United States in a vessel belonging wholly or in part to a subject of any foreign power, the merchandise shall, on its arrival at such last-named port or place, be seized and forfeited to the United States, and the vessel shall pay a tonnage duty of 50 cents per net ton.

 

§1589. Repealed. Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, §7367(c)(5), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4480

 

§1589a. Enforcement authority of customs officers

Subject to the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, an officer of the customs may—

(1) carry a firearm;

(2) execute and serve any order, warrant, subpena, summons, or other process issued under the authority of the United States;

(3) make an arrest without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the officer's presence or for a felony, cognizable under the laws of the United States committed outside the officer's presence if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony; and

(4) perform any other law enforcement duty that the Secretary of the Treasury may designate.

 

§1590. Aviation smuggling

(a) In general

It is unlawful for the pilot of any aircraft to transport, or for any individual on board any aircraft to possess, merchandise knowing, or intending, that the merchandise will be introduced into the United States contrary to law.

(b) Sea transfers

It is unlawful for any person to transfer merchandise between an aircraft and a vessel on the high seas or in the customs waters of the United States if such person has not been authorized by the Secretary to make such transfer and—

(1) either—

(A) the aircraft is owned by a citizen of the United States or is registered in the United States, or

(B) the vessel is a vessel of the United States (within the meaning of section 1703(b) of this title), or

(2) regardless of the nationality of the vessel or aircraft, such transfer is made under circumstances indicating the intent to make it possible for such merchandise, or any part thereof, to be introduced into the United States unlawfully.

(c) Civil penalties

Any person who violates any provision of this section is liable for a civil penalty equal to twice the value of the merchandise involved in the violation, but not less than $10,000. The value of any controlled substance included in the merchandise shall be determined in accordance with section 1497(b) of this title.

(d) Criminal penalties

In addition to being liable for a civil penalty under subsection (c) of this section, any person who intentionally commits a violation of any provision of this section is, upon conviction—

(1) liable for a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both, if none of the merchandise involved was a controlled substance; or

(2) liable for a fine of not more than $250,000 or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both, if any of the merchandise involved was a controlled substance.

(e) Seizure and forfeiture

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), a vessel or aircraft used in connection with, or in aiding or facilitating, any violation of this section, whether or not any person is charged in connection with such violation, may be seized and forfeited in accordance with the customs laws.

(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to a vessel or aircraft operated as a common carrier.

(f) “Merchandise” defined

As used in this section, the term “merchandise” means only merchandise the importation of which into the United States is prohibited or restricted.

(g) Intent of transfer of merchandise

For purposes of imposing civil penalties under this section, any of the following acts, when performed within 250 miles of the territorial sea of the United States, shall be prima facie evidence that the transportation or possession of merchandise was unlawful and shall be presumed to constitute circumstances indicating that the purpose of the transfer is to make it possible for such merchandise, or any part thereof, to be introduced into the United States unlawfully, and for purposes of subsection (e) of this section or section 1595a of this title, shall be prima facie evidence that an aircraft or vessel was used in connection with, or to aid or facilitate, a violation of this section:

(1) The operation of an aircraft or a vessel without lights during such times as lights are required to be displayed under applicable law.

(2) The presence on an aircraft of an auxiliary fuel tank which is not installed in accordance with applicable law.

(3) The failure to identify correctly—

(A) the vessel by name or country of registration, or

(B) the aircraft by registration number and country of registration,

when requested to do so by a customs officer or other government authority.

(4) The external display of false registration numbers, false country of registration, or, in the case of a vessel, false vessel name.

(5) The presence on board of unmanifested merchandise, the importation of which is prohibited or restricted.

(6) The presence on board of controlled substances which are not manifested or which are not accompanied by the permits or licenses required under Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or other international treaty.

(7) The presence of any compartment or equipment which is built or fitted out for smuggling.

(8) The failure of a vessel to stop when hailed by a customs officer or other government authority.

 

§1591. Repealed. June 25, 1948, ch. 645, §21, 62 Stat. 862, eff. Sept. 1, 1948

 

§1592. Penalties for fraud, gross negligence, and negligence

(a) Prohibition

(1) General rule

Without regard to whether the United States is or may be deprived of all or a portion of any lawful duty, tax, or fee thereby, no person, by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence—

(A) may enter, introduce, or attempt to enter or introduce any merchandise into the commerce of the United States by means of—

(i) any document or electronically transmitted data or information, written or oral statement, or act which is material and false, or

(ii) any omission which is material, or

(B) may aid or abet any other person to violate subparagraph (A).

(2) Exception

Clerical errors or mistakes of fact are not violations of paragraph (1) unless they are part of a pattern of negligent conduct. The mere nonintentional repetition by an electronic system of an initial clerical error does not constitute a pattern of negligent conduct.

(b) Procedures

(1) Pre-penalty notice

(A) In general

If the Customs Service has reasonable cause to believe that there has been a violation of subsection (a) of this section and determines that further proceedings are warranted, it shall issue to the person concerned a written notice of its intention to issue a claim for a monetary penalty. Such notice shall—

(i) describe the merchandise;

(ii) set forth the details of the entry or introduction, the attempted entry or introduction, or the aiding or procuring of the entry or introduction;

(iii) specify all laws and regulations allegedly violated;

(iv) disclose all the material facts which establish the alleged violation;

(v) state whether the alleged violation occurred as a result of fraud, gross negligence, or negligence;

(vi) state the estimated loss of lawful duties, taxes, and fees, if any, and, taking into account all circumstances, the amount of the proposed monetary penalty; and

(vii) inform such person that he shall have a reasonable opportunity to make representations, both oral and written, as to why a claim for a monetary penalty should not be issued in the amount stated.

(B) Exceptions

The preceding subparagraph shall not apply if—

(i) the importation with respect to which the violation of subsection (a) of this section occurs is noncommercial in nature, or

(ii) the amount of the penalty in the penalty claim issued under paragraph (2) is $1,000 or less.

(2) Penalty claim

After considering representations, if any, made by the person concerned pursuant to the notice issued under paragraph (1), the Customs Service shall determine whether any violation of subsection (a) of this section, as alleged in the notice, has occurred. If the Customs Service determines that there was no violation, it shall promptly issue a written statement of the determination to the person to whom the notice was sent. If the Customs Service determines that there was a violation, it shall issue a written penalty claim to such person. The written penalty claim shall specify all changes in the information provided under clauses (i) through (vi) of paragraph (1)(A). Such person shall have a reasonable opportunity under section 1618 of this title to make representations, both oral and written, seeking remission or mitigation of the monetary penalty. At the conclusion of any proceeding under such section 1618, the Customs Service shall provide to the person concerned a written statement which sets forth the final determination and the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which such determination is based.

(c) Maximum penalties

(1) Fraud

A fraudulent violation of subsection (a) of this section is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed the domestic value of the merchandise.

(2) Gross negligence

A grossly negligent violation of subsection (a) of this section is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed—

(A) the lesser of—

(i) the domestic value of the merchandise, or

(ii) four times the lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived, or

(B) if the violation did not affect the assessment of duties, 40 percent of the dutiable value of the merchandise.

(3) Negligence

A negligent violation of subsection (a) of this section is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed—

(A) the lesser of—

(i) the domestic value of the merchandise, or

(ii) two times the lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived, or

(B) if the violation did not affect the assessment of duties, 20 percent of the dutiable value of the merchandise.

(4) Prior disclosure

If the person concerned discloses the circumstances of a violation of subsection (a) of this section before, or without knowledge of, the commencement of a formal investigation of such violation, with respect to such violation, merchandise shall not be seized and any monetary penalty to be assessed under subsection (c) of this section shall not exceed—

(A) if the violation resulted from fraud—

(i) an amount equal to 100 percent of the lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived, so long as such person tenders the unpaid amount of the lawful duties, taxes, and fees at the time of disclosure, or within 30 days (or such longer period as the Customs Service may provide) after notice by the Customs Service of its calculation of such unpaid amount, or

(ii) if such violation did not affect the assessment of duties, 10 percent of the dutiable value; or

(B) if such violation resulted from negligence or gross negligence, the interest (computed from the date of liquidation at the prevailing rate of interest applied under section 6621 of title 26) on the amount of lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived so long as such person tenders the unpaid amount of the lawful duties, taxes, and fees at the time of disclosure, or within 30 days (or such longer period as the Customs Service may provide) after notice by the Customs Service of its calculation of such unpaid amount.

The person asserting lack of knowledge of the commencement of a formal investigation has the burden of proof in establishing such lack of knowledge. For purposes of this section, a formal investigation of a violation is considered to be commenced with regard to the disclosing party and the disclosed information on the date recorded in writing by the Customs Service as the date on which facts and circumstances were discovered or information was received which caused the Customs Service to believe that a possibility of a violation of subsection (a) of this section existed.

(5) Prior disclosure regarding NAFTA claims

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) of this section for making an incorrect claim for preferential tariff treatment under section 3332 of this title if the importer—

(A) has reason to believe that the NAFTA Certificate of Origin (as defined in section 1508(b)(1) of this title) on which the claim was based contains incorrect information; and

(B) in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary, voluntarily and promptly makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(6) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) of this section for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 202 of the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, voluntarily makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(7) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement

(A) An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) of this section for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 202 of the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, voluntarily and promptly makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(B) In the regulations referred to in subparagraph (A), the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to prescribe time periods for making a corrected declaration and paying duties owing under subparagraph (A), if such periods are not shorter than 1 year following the date on which the importer makes the incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good.

(8) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the United States-Australia free trade agreement

(A) In general

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) of this section for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 203 of the United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, voluntarily and promptly makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(B) Time periods for making corrections

In the regulations referred to in subparagraph (A), the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to prescribe time periods for making a corrected declaration and paying duties owing under subparagraph (A), if such periods are not shorter than 1 year following the date on which the importer makes the incorrect claim.

(9) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) of this section for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 4033 of this title if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, promptly and voluntarily makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(10) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 203 of the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, promptly and voluntarily makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing with respect to that good.

(11) Seizure

If the Secretary has reasonable cause to believe that a person has violated the provisions of subsection (a) of this section and that such person is insolvent or beyond the jurisdiction of the United States or that seizure is otherwise essential to protect the revenue of the United States or to prevent the introduction of prohibited or restricted merchandise into the customs territory of the United States, then such merchandise may be seized and, upon assessment of a monetary penalty, forfeited unless the monetary penalty is paid within the time specified by law. Within a reasonable time after any such seizure is made, the Secretary shall issue to the person concerned a written statement containing the reasons for the seizure. After seizure of merchandise under this subsection, the Secretary may, in the case of restricted merchandise, and shall, in the case of any other merchandise (other than prohibited merchandise), return such merchandise upon the deposit of security not to exceed the maximum monetary penalty which may be assessed under subsection (c) of this section.

(d) Deprivation of lawful duties, taxes, or fees

Notwithstanding section 1514 of this title, if the United States has been deprived of lawful duties, taxes, or fees as a result of a violation of subsection (a) of this section, the Customs Service shall require that such lawful duties, taxes, and fees be restored, whether or not a monetary penalty is assessed.

(e) Court of International Trade proceedings

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any proceeding commenced by the United States in the Court of International Trade for the recovery of any monetary penalty claimed under this section—

(1) all issues, including the amount of the penalty, shall be tried de novo;

(2) if the monetary penalty is based on fraud, the United States shall have the burden of proof to establish the alleged violation by clear and convincing evidence;

(3) if the monetary penalty is based on gross negligence, the United States shall have the burden of proof to establish all the elements of the alleged violation; and

(4) if the monetary penalty is based on negligence, the United States shall have the burden of proof to establish the act or omission constituting the violation, and the alleged violator shall have the burden of proof that the act or omission did not occur as a result of negligence.

(f) False certifications regarding exports to NAFTA countries

(1) In general

Subject to paragraph (3), it is unlawful for any person to certify falsely, by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence, in a NAFTA Certificate of Origin (as defined in section 1508(b)(1) of this title) that a good to be exported to a NAFTA country (as defined in section 3301(4) of this title) qualifies under the rules of origin set out in section 3332 of this title.

(2) Applicable provisions

The procedures and penalties of this section that apply to a violation of subsection (a) of this section also apply to a violation of paragraph (1), except that—

(A) subsection (d) of this section does not apply, and

(B) subsection (c)(5) of this section applies only if the person voluntarily and promptly provides, to all persons to whom the person provided the NAFTA Certificate of Origin, written notice of the falsity of the Certificate.

(3) Exception

A person may not be considered to have violated paragraph (1) if—

(A) the information was correct at the time it was provided in a NAFTA Certificate of Origin but was later rendered incorrect due to a change in circumstances; and

(B) the person voluntarily and promptly provides written notice of the change to all persons to whom the person provided the Certificate of Origin.

(g) False certifications of origin under the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement

(1) In general

Subject to paragraph (2), it is unlawful for any person to certify falsely, by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence, in a Chile FTA Certificate of Origin (as defined in section 1508(f)(1)(B) of this title 1 that a good exported from the United States qualifies as an originating good under the rules of origin set out in section 202 of the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. The procedures and penalties of this section that apply to a violation of subsection (a) of this section also apply to a violation of this subsection.

(2) Immediate and voluntary disclosure of incorrect information

No penalty shall be imposed under this subsection if, immediately after an exporter or producer that issued a Chile FTA Certificate of Origin has reason to believe that such certificate contains or is based on incorrect information, the exporter or producer voluntarily provides written notice of such incorrect information to every person to whom the certificate was issued.

(3) Exception

A person may not be considered to have violated paragraph (1) if—

(A) the information was correct at the time it was provided in a Chile FTA Certificate of Origin but was later rendered incorrect due to a change in circumstances; and

(B) the person immediately and voluntarily provides written notice of the change in circumstances to all persons to whom the person provided the certificate.

(h) False certifications of origin under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement

(1) In general

Subject to paragraph (2), it is unlawful for any person to certify falsely, by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence, in a CAFTA–DR certification of origin (as defined in section 1508(g)(1)(B) of this title) that a good exported from the United States qualifies as an originating good under the rules of origin set out in section 4033 of this title. The procedures and penalties of this section that apply to a violation of subsection (a) of this section also apply to a violation of this subsection.

(2) Prompt and voluntary disclosure of incorrect information

No penalty shall be imposed under this subsection if, promptly after an exporter or producer that issued a CAFTA–DR certification of origin has reason to believe that such certification contains or is based on incorrect information, the exporter or producer voluntarily provides written notice of such incorrect information to every person to whom the certification was issued.

(3) Exception

A person may not be considered to have violated paragraph (1) if—

(A) the information was correct at the time it was provided in a CAFTA–DR certification of origin but was later rendered incorrect due to a change in circumstances; and

(B) the person promptly and voluntarily provides written notice of the change in circumstances to all persons to whom the person provided the certification.

(i) False certifications of origin under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement

(1) In general

Subject to paragraph (2), it is unlawful for any person to certify falsely, by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence, in a PTPA certification of origin (as defined in section 1508(h)(1)(B) of this title) that a good exported from the United States qualifies as an originating good under the rules of origin provided for in section 203 of the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act. The procedures and penalties of this section that apply to a violation of subsection (a) also apply to a violation of this subsection.

(2) Prompt and voluntary disclosure of incorrect information

No penalty shall be imposed under this subsection if, promptly after an exporter or producer that issued a PTPA certification of origin has reason to believe that such certification contains or is based on incorrect information, the exporter or producer voluntarily provides written notice of such incorrect information to every person to whom the certification was issued.

(3) Exception

A person shall not be considered to have violated paragraph (1) if—

(A) the information was correct at the time it was provided in a PTPA certification of origin but was later rendered incorrect due to a change in circumstances; and

(B) the person promptly and voluntarily provides written notice of the change in circumstances to all persons to whom the person provided the certification.

 

§1592a. Special provisions regarding certain violations

(a) Publication of names of certain violators

(1) Publication

The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to publish in the Federal Register a list of the name of any producer, manufacturer, supplier, seller, exporter, or other person located outside the customs territory of the United States—

(A) against whom the Customs Service has issued a penalty claim under section 1592 of this title, and

(B) if a petition with respect to that claim has been filed under section 1618 of this title, against whom a final decision has been issued under such section after exhaustion of administrative remedies,

citing any of the violations of the customs laws referred to in paragraph (2). Such list shall be published not later than March 31 and September 30 of each year.

(2) Violations

The violations of the customs laws referred to in paragraph (1) are the following:

(A) Using documentation, or providing documentation subsequently used by the importer of record, which indicates a false or fraudulent country of origin or source of textile or apparel products.

(B) Using counterfeit visas, licenses, permits, bills of lading, or similar documentation, or providing counterfeit visas, licenses, permits, bills of lading, or similar documentation that is subsequently used by the importer of record, with respect to the entry into the customs territory of the United States of textile or apparel products.

(C) Manufacturing, producing, supplying, or selling textile or apparel products which are falsely or fraudulently labelled as to country of origin or source.

(D) Engaging in practices which aid or abet the transshipment, through a country other than the country of origin, of textile or apparel products in a manner which conceals the true origin of the textile or apparel products or permits the evasion of quotas on, or voluntary restraint agreements with respect to, imports of textile or apparel products.

(3) Removal from list

Any person whose name has been included in a list published under paragraph (1) may petition the Secretary to be removed from such list. If the Secretary finds that such person has not committed any violations described in paragraph (2) for a period of not less than 3 years after the date on which the person's name was so published, the Secretary shall remove such person from the list as of the next publication of the list under paragraph (1).

(4) Reasonable care required for subsequent imports

(A) Responsibility of importers and others

After the name of a person has been published under paragraph (1), the Secretary of the Treasury shall require any importer of record entering, introducing, or attempting to introduce into the commerce of the United States textile or apparel products that were either directly or indirectly produced, manufactured, supplied, sold, exported, or transported by such named person to show, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that such importer has exercised reasonable care to ensure that the textile or apparel products are accompanied by documentation, packaging, and labelling that are accurate as to its origin. Such reasonable care shall not include reliance solely on a source of information which is the named person.

(B) Failure to exercise reasonable care

If the Customs Service determines that merchandise is not from the country claimed on the documentation accompanying the merchandise, the failure to exercise reasonable care described in subparagraph (A) shall be considered when the Customs Service determines whether the importer of record is in violation of section 1484(a) of this title.

(b) List of high risk countries

(1) List

The President or his designee, upon the advice of the Secretaries of Commerce and Treasury, and the heads of other appropriate departments and agencies, is authorized to publish a list of countries in which illegal activities have occurred involving transshipped textile or apparel products or activities designed to evade quotas of the United States on textile or apparel products, if those countries fail to demonstrate a good faith effort to cooperate with United States authorities in ceasing such activities. Such list shall be published in the Federal Register not later than March 31 of each year. Any country that is on the list and that subsequently demonstrates a good faith effort to cooperate with United States authorities in ceasing illegal activities described in the first sentence shall be removed from the list, and such removal shall be published in the Federal Register as soon as practicable.

(2) Reasonable care required for subsequent imports

(A) Responsibility of importers of record

The Secretary of the Treasury shall require any importer of record entering, introducing, or attempting to introduce into the commerce of the United States textile or apparel products indicated, on the documentation, packaging, or labelling accompanying such products, to be from any country on the list published under paragraph (1) to show, to the satisfaction of the Secretary, that such importer, consignee, or purchaser has exercised reasonable care to ascertain the true country of origin of the textile or apparel products.

(B) Failure to exercise reasonable care

If the Customs Service determines that merchandise is not from the country claimed on the documentation accompanying the merchandise, the failure to exercise reasonable care described in subparagraph (A) shall be considered when the Customs Service determines whether the importer of record is in violation of section 1484(a) of this title.

(3) “Country” defined

For purposes of this subsection, the term “country” means a foreign country or territory, including any overseas dependent territory or possession of a foreign country.

 

§1593. Repealed. June 25, 1948, ch. 645, §21, 62 Stat. 862, eff. Sept. 1, 1948

 

§1593a. Penalties for false drawback claims

(a) Prohibition

(1) General rule

No person, by fraud, or negligence—

(A) may seek, induce or affect, or attempt to seek, induce, or affect, the payment or credit to that person or others of any drawback claim by means of—

(i) any document, written or oral statement, or electronically transmitted data or information, or act which is material and false, or

(ii) any omission which is material; or

(B) may aid or abet any other person to violate subparagraph (A).

(2) Exception

Clerical errors or mistakes of fact are not violations of paragraph (1) unless they are part of a pattern of negligent conduct. The mere nonintentional repetition by an electronic system of an initial clerical error does not constitute a pattern of negligent conduct.

(b) Procedures

(1) Prepenalty notice

(A) In general

If the Customs Service has reasonable cause to believe that there has been a violation of subsection (a) of this section and determines that further proceedings are warranted, the Customs Service shall issue to the person concerned a written notice of intent to issue a claim for a monetary penalty. Such notice shall—

(i) identify the drawback claim;

(ii) set forth the details relating to the seeking, inducing, or affecting, or the attempted seeking, inducing, or affecting, or the aiding or procuring of, the drawback claim;

(iii) specify all laws and regulations allegedly violated;

(iv) disclose all the material facts which establish the alleged violation;

(v) state whether the alleged violation occurred as a result of fraud or negligence;

(vi) state the estimated actual or potential loss of revenue due to the drawback claim, and, taking into account all circumstances, the amount of the proposed monetary penalty; and

(vii) inform such person that he shall have a reasonable opportunity to make representations, both oral and written, as to why a claim for a monetary penalty should not be issued in the amount stated.

(B) Exceptions

The Customs Service may not issue a prepenalty notice if the amount of the penalty in the penalty claim issued under paragraph (2) is $1,000 or less. In such cases, the Customs Service may proceed directly with a penalty claim.

(C) Prior approval

No prepenalty notice in which the alleged violation occurred as a result of fraud shall be issued without the prior approval of Customs Headquarters.

(2) Penalty claim

After considering representations, if any, made by the person concerned pursuant to the notice issued under paragraph (1), the Customs Service shall determine whether any violation of subsection (a) of this section, as alleged in the notice, has occurred. If the Customs Service determines that there was no violation, the Customs Service shall promptly issue a written statement of the determination to the person to whom the notice was sent. If the Customs Service determines that there was a violation, Customs shall issue a written penalty claim to such person. The written penalty claim shall specify all changes in the information provided under clauses (i) through (vii) of paragraph (1)(A). Such person shall have a reasonable opportunity under section 1618 of this title to make representations, both oral and written, seeking remission or mitigation of the monetary penalty. At the conclusion of any proceeding under section 1618 of this title, the Customs Service shall provide to the person concerned a written statement which sets forth the final determination, and the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which such determination is based.

(c) Maximum penalties

(1) Fraud

A fraudulent violation of subsection (a) of this section is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed 3 times the actual or potential loss of revenue.

(2) Negligence

(A) In general

A negligent violation of subsection (a) of this section is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed 20 percent of the actual or potential loss of revenue for the 1st violation.

(B) Repetitive violations

If the Customs Service determines that a repeat negligent violation occurs relating to the same issue, the penalty amount for the 2d violation shall be in an amount not to exceed 50 percent of the total actual or potential loss of revenue. The penalty amount for each succeeding repetitive negligent violation shall be in an amount not to exceed the actual or potential loss of revenue. If the same party commits a nonrepetitive violation, that violation shall be subject to a penalty not to exceed 20 percent of the actual or potential loss of revenue.

(3) Prior disclosure

(A) In general

Subject to subparagraph (B), if the person concerned discloses the circumstances of a violation of subsection (a) of this section before, or without knowledge of the commencement of, a formal investigation of such violation, the monetary penalty assessed under this subsection may not exceed—

(i) if the violation resulted from fraud, an amount equal to the actual or potential revenue of which the United States is or may be deprived as a result of overpayment of the claim; or

(ii) if the violation resulted from negligence, an amount equal to the interest computed on the basis of the prevailing rate of interest applied under section 6621 of title 26 on the amount of actual revenue of which the United States is or may be deprived during the period that—

(I) begins on the date of the overpayment of the claim; and

(II) ends on the date on which the person concerned tenders the amount of the overpayment.

(B) Condition affecting penalty limitations

The limitations in subparagraph (A) on the amount of the monetary penalty to be assessed under this subsection apply only if the person concerned tenders the amount of the overpayment made on the claim at the time of disclosure, or within 30 days (or such longer period as the Customs Service may provide), after notice by the Customs Service of its calculation of the amount of the overpayment.

(C) Burden of proof

The person asserting lack of knowledge of the commencement of a formal investigation has the burden of proof in establishing such lack of knowledge.

(4) Commencement of investigation

For purposes of this section, a formal investigation of a violation is considered to be commenced with regard to the disclosing party and the disclosed information on the date recorded in writing by the Customs Service as the date on which facts and circumstances were discovered or information was received which caused the Customs Service to believe that a possibility of a violation of subsection (a) of this section existed.

(5) Exclusivity

Penalty claims under this section shall be the exclusive civil remedy for any drawback related violation of subsection (a) of this section.

(d) Deprivation of lawful revenue

Notwithstanding section 1514 of this title, if the United States has been deprived of lawful duties and taxes resulting from a violation of subsection (a) of this section, the Customs Service shall require that such duties and taxes be restored whether or not a monetary penalty is assessed.

(e) Drawback compliance program

(1) In general

After consultation with the drawback trade community, the Customs Service shall establish a drawback compliance program in which claimants and other parties in interest may participate after being certified by the Customs Service under paragraph (2). Participation in the drawback compliance program is voluntary.

(2) Certification

A party may be certified as a participant in the drawback compliance program after meeting the general requirements established under the program or after negotiating an alternative program suited to the needs of the party and the Customs Service. Certification requirements shall take into account the size and nature of the party's drawback program and the volume of claims. In order to be certified, the participant must be able to demonstrate that it—

(A) understands the legal requirements for filing claims, including the nature of the records required to be maintained and produced and the time periods involved;

(B) has in place procedures to explain the Customs Service requirements to those employees that are involved in the preparation of claims, and the maintenance and production of required records;

(C) has in place procedures regarding the preparation of claims and maintenance of required records, and the production of such records to the Customs Service;

(D) has designated a dependable individual or individuals to be responsible for compliance under the program and whose duties include maintaining familiarity with the drawback requirements of the Customs Service;

(E) has a record maintenance procedure approved by the Customs Service for original records, or, if approved by the Customs Service, for alternate records or recordkeeping formats other than the original records; and

(F) has procedures for notifying the Customs Service of variances to, and violations of, the requirements of the drawback compliance program or any negotiated alternative programs, and for taking corrective action when notified by the Customs Service for violations or problems regarding such program.

(f) Alternatives to penalties

(1) In general

When a party that—

(A) has been certified as a participant in the drawback compliance program under subsection (e) of this section; and

(B) is generally in compliance with the appropriate procedures and requirements of the program;

commits a violation of subsection (a) of this section, the Customs Service, shall, in the absence of fraud or repeated violations, and in lieu of a monetary penalty, issue a written notice of the violation to the party. Repeated violations by a party may result in the issuance of penalties and removal of certification under the program until corrective action, satisfactory to the Customs Service, is taken.

(2) Contents of notice

A notice of violation issued under paragraph (1) shall—

(A) state that the party has violated subsection (a) of this section;

(B) explain the nature of the violation; and

(C) warn the party that future violations of subsection (a) of this section may result in the imposition of monetary penalties.

(3) Response to notice

Within a reasonable time after receiving written notice under paragraph (1), the party shall notify the Customs Service of the steps it has taken to prevent a recurrence of the violation.

(g) Repetitive violations

(1) A party who has been issued a written notice under subsection (f)(1) of this section and subsequently commits a repeat negligent violation involving the same issue is subject to the following monetary penalties:

(A) 2d violation

An amount not to exceed 20 percent of the loss of revenue.

(B) 3rd violation

An amount not to exceed 50 percent of the loss of revenue.

(C) 4th and subsequent violations

An amount not to exceed 100 percent of the loss of revenue.

(2) If a party that has been certified as a participant in the drawback compliance program under subsection (e) of this section commits an alleged violation which was not repetitive, the party shall be issued a “warning letter”, and, for any subsequent violation, shall be subject to the same maximum penalty amounts stated in paragraph (1).

(h) Regulation

The Secretary shall promulgate regulations and guidelines to implement this section. Such regulations shall specify that for purposes of subsections (c) and (g) of this section, a repeat negligent violation involving the same issue shall be treated as a repetitive violation for a maximum period of 3 years.

(i) Court of International Trade proceedings

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any proceeding commenced by the United States in the Court of International Trade for the recovery of any monetary penalty claimed under this section—

(1) all issues, including the amount of the penalty, shall be tried de novo;

(2) if the monetary penalty is based on fraud, the United States shall have the burden of proof to establish the alleged violation by clear and convincing evidence; and

(3) if the monetary penalty is based on negligence, the United States shall have the burden of proof to establish the act or omission constituting the violation, and the alleged violator shall have the burden of providing evidence that the act or omission did not occur as a result of negligence.

 

§1594. Seizure of conveyances

(a) In general

Whenever—

(1) any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft; or

(2) the owner or operator, or the master, pilot, conductor, driver, or other person in charge of a vessel, vehicle, or aircraft;

is subject to a penalty for violation of the customs laws, the conveyance involved shall be held for the payment of such penalty and may be seized and forfeited and sold in accordance with the customs laws. The proceeds of sale, if any, in excess of the assessed penalty and expenses of seizing, maintaining, and selling the property shall be held for the account of any interested party.

(b) Exceptions

(1) No conveyance used by any person as a common carrier in the transaction of business as a common carrier is subject to seizure and forfeiture under the customs laws for violations relating to merchandise contained—

(A) on the person;

(B) in baggage belonging to and accompanying a passenger being lawfully transported on such conveyance; or

(C) in the cargo of the conveyance if the cargo is listed on the manifest and marks, numbers, weights and quantities of the outer packages or containers agree with the manifest;

unless the owner or operator, or the master, pilot, conductor, driver or other person in charge participated in, or had knowledge of, the violation, or was grossly negligent in preventing or discovering the violation.

(2) Except as provided in paragraph (1) or subsection (c) of this section, no vessel, vehicle, or aircraft is subject to forfeiture to the extent of an interest of an owner for a drug-related offense established by that owner to have been committed or omitted without the knowledge, consent, or willful blindness of the owner.

(c) Prohibited merchandise on conveyance

If any merchandise the importation of which is prohibited is found to be, or to have been—

(1) on board a conveyance used as a common carrier in the transaction of business as a common carrier in one or more packages or containers—

(A) that are not manifested (or not shown on bills of lading or airway bills); or

(B) whose marks, numbers, weight or quantities disagree with the manifest (or with the bills of lading or airway bills); or

(2) concealed in or on such a conveyance, but not in the cargo;

the conveyance may be seized, and after investigation, forfeited unless it is established that neither the owner or operator, master, pilot, nor any other employee responsible for maintaining and insuring the accuracy of the cargo manifest knew, or by the exercise of the highest degree of care and diligence could have known, that such merchandise was on board.

(d) Definitions

For purposes of this section—

(1) The term “owner or operator” includes—

(A) a lessee or person operating a conveyance under a rental agreement or charter party; and

(B) the officers and directors of a corporation;

(C) station managers and similar supervisory ground personnel employed by airlines;

(D) one or more partners of a partnership;

(E) representatives of the owner or operator in charge of the passenger or cargo operations at a particular location; and

(F) and other persons with similar responsibilities.

(2) The term “master” and similar terms relating to the person in charge of a conveyance includes the purser or other person on the conveyance who is responsible for maintaining records relating to the cargo transported in the conveyance.

(e) Costs and expenses of seizure

When a common carrier has been seized in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) of this section and it is subsequently determined that a violation of such subsection occurred but that the vessel will be released, the conveyance is liable for the costs and expenses of the seizure and detention.

 

§1595. Searches and seizures

(a) Warrant

(1) If any officer or person authorized to make searches and seizures has probable cause to believe that—

(A) any merchandise upon which the duties have not been paid, or which has been otherwise brought into the United States unlawfully;

(B) any property which is subject to forfeiture under any provision of law enforced or administered by the United States Customs Service; or

(C) any document, container, wrapping, or other article which is evidence of a violation of section 1592 of this title involving fraud or of any other law enforced or administered by the United States Customs Service,

is in any dwelling house, store, or other building or place, he may make application, under oath, to any justice of the peace, to any municipal, county, State, or Federal judge, or to any Federal magistrate judge, and shall thereupon be entitled to a warrant to enter such dwelling house in the daytime only, or such store or other place at night or by day, and to search for and seize such merchandise or other article described in the warrant.

(2) If any house, store, or other building or place, in which any merchandise or other article subject to forfeiture is found, is upon or within 10 feet of the boundary line between the United States and a foreign country, such portion thereof that is within the United States may be taken down or removed.

(b) Entry upon property of others

Any person authorized by this chapter to make searches and seizures, or any person assisting him or acting under his directions, may, if deemed necessary by him or them, enter into or upon or pass through the lands, inclosures, and buildings, other than the dwelling house, of any person whomsoever, in the discharge of his official duties.

 

§1595a. Forfeitures and other penalties

(a) Importation, removal, etc. contrary to laws of United States

Except as specified in subsection (b) or (c) of section 1594 of this title, every vessel, vehicle, animal, aircraft, or other thing used in, to aid in, or to facilitate, by obtaining information or in any other way, the importation, bringing in, unlading, landing, removal, concealing, harboring, or subsequent transportation of any article which is being or has been introduced, or attempted to be introduced, into the United States contrary to law, whether upon such vessel, vehicle, animal, aircraft, or other thing or otherwise, may be seized and forfeited together with its tackle, apparel, furniture, harness, or equipment.

(b) Penalty for aiding unlawful importation

Every person who directs, assists financially or otherwise, or is in any way concerned in any unlawful activity mentioned in the preceding subsection shall be liable to a penalty equal to the value of the article or articles introduced or attempted to be introduced.

(c) Merchandise introduced contrary to law

Merchandise which is introduced or attempted to be introduced into the United States contrary to law shall be treated as follows:

(1) The merchandise shall be seized and forfeited if it—

(A) is stolen, smuggled, or clandestinely imported or introduced;

(B) is a controlled substance, as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), and is not imported in accordance with applicable law;

(C) is a contraband article, as defined in section 80302 of title 49; or

(D) is a plastic explosive, as defined in section 841(q) of title 18, which does not contain a detection agent, as defined in section 841(p) of such title.

(2) The merchandise may be seized and forfeited if—

(A) its importation or entry is subject to any restriction or prohibition which is imposed by law relating to health, safety, or conservation and the merchandise is not in compliance with the applicable rule, regulation, or statute;

(B) its importation or entry requires a license, permit or other authorization of an agency of the United States Government and the merchandise is not accompanied by such license, permit, or authorization;

(C) it is merchandise or packaging in which copyright, trademark, or trade name protection violations are involved (including, but not limited to, violations of section 1124, 1125, or 1127 of title 15, section 506 of title 17, or section 2318 or 2320 of title 18);

(D) it is trade dress merchandise involved in the violation of a court order citing section 1125 of title 15;

(E) it is merchandise which is marked intentionally in violation of section 1304 of this title; or

(F) it is merchandise for which the importer has received written notices that previous importations of identical merchandise from the same supplier were found to have been marked in violation of section 1304 of this title.

(3) If the importation or entry of the merchandise is subject to quantitative restrictions requiring a visa, permit, license, or other similar document, or stamp from the United States Government or from a foreign government or issuing authority pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral agreement, the merchandise shall be subject to detention in accordance with section 1499 of this title unless the appropriate visa, license, permit, or similar document or stamp is presented to the Customs Service; but if the visa, permit, license, or similar document or stamp which is presented in connection with the importation or entry of the merchandise is counterfeit, the merchandise may be seized and forfeited.

(4) If the merchandise is imported or introduced contrary to a provision of law which governs the classification or value of merchandise and there are no issues as to the admissibility of the merchandise into the United States, it shall not be seized except in accordance with section 1592 of this title.

(5) In any case where the seizure and forfeiture of merchandise are required or authorized by this section, the Secretary may—

(A) remit the forfeiture under section 1618 of this title, or

(B) permit the exportation of the merchandise, unless its release would adversely affect health, safety, or conservation or be in contravention of a bilateral or multilateral agreement or treaty.

(d) Merchandise exported contrary to law

Merchandise exported or sent from the United States or attempted to be exported or sent from the United States contrary to law, or the proceeds or value thereof, and property used to facilitate the exporting or sending of such merchandise, the attempted exporting or sending of such merchandise, or the receipt, purchase, transportation, concealment, or sale of such merchandise prior to exportation shall be seized and forfeited to the United States.

 

§§1596 to 1598. Repealed. June 25, 1948, ch. 645, §21, 62 Stat. 862, eff. Sept. 1, 1948

 

§1599. Officers not to be interested in vessels or cargo

No person employed under the authority of the United States, in the collection of duties on imports or tonnage, shall own, either in whole or in part, any vessel (other than a yacht or other pleasure boat), or act as agent, attorney, or consignee for the owner or owners of any vessel, or of any cargo or lading on board the same; nor shall any such person import, or be concerned directly or indirectly in the importation of, any merchandise for sale into the United States. Every person who violates this section shall be liable to a penalty of $500.

 

§1600. Application of the customs laws to other seizures by customs officers

The procedures set forth in sections 1602 through 1619 of this title shall apply to seizures of any property effected by customs officers under any law enforced or administered by the Customs Service unless such law specifies different procedures.

 

§§1601, 1601a. Repealed. June 25, 1948, ch. 645, §21, 62 Stat. 862, eff. Sept. 1, 1948

 

§1602. Seizure; report to customs officer

It shall be the duty of any officer, agent, or other person authorized by law to make seizures of merchandise or baggage subject to seizure for violation of the customs laws, to report every such seizure immediately to the appropriate customs officer for the district in which such violation occurred, and to turn over and deliver to such customs officer any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage seized by him, and to report immediately to such customs officer every violation of the customs laws.

 

§1603. Seizure; warrants and reports

(a) Any property which is subject to forfeiture to the United States for violation of the customs laws and which is not subject to search and seizure in accordance with the provisions of section 1595 of this title, may be seized by the appropriate officer or person upon process issued in the same manner as provided for a search warrant under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. This authority is in addition to any seizure authority otherwise provided by law.

(b) Whenever a seizure of merchandise for violation of the customs laws is made, or a violation of the customs laws is discovered, and legal proceedings by the United States attorney in connection with such seizure or discovery are required, it shall be the duty of the appropriate customs officer to report promptly such seizure or violation to the United States attorney for the district in which such violation has occurred, or in which such seizure was made, and to include in such report a statement of all the facts and circumstances of the case within his knowledge, with the names of the witnesses and a citation to the statute or statutes believed to have been violated, and on which reliance may be had for forfeiture or conviction.

 

§1604. Seizure; prosecution

It shall be the duty of the Attorney General of the United States immediately to inquire into the facts of cases reported to him by customs officers and the laws applicable thereto, and if it appears probable that any fine, penalty, or forfeiture has been incurred by reason of such violation, for the recovery of which the institution of proceedings in the United States district court or the Court of International Trade is necessary, forthwith to cause the proper proceedings to be commenced and prosecuted, without delay, for the recovery of such fine, penalty, or forfeiture in such case provided, unless, upon inquiry and examination, the Attorney General decides that such proceedings can not probably be sustained or that the ends of public justice do not require that they should be instituted or prosecuted, in which case he shall report the facts to the Secretary of the Treasury for his direction in the premises.

 

§1605. Seizure; custody; storage

All vessels, vehicles, aircraft, merchandise, and baggage seized under the provisions of the customs laws, or laws relating to the navigation, registering, enrolling or licensing, or entry or clearance, of vessels, unless otherwise provided by law, shall be placed and remain in the custody of the appropriate customs officer for the district in which the seizure was made to await disposition according to law.

Pending such disposition, the property shall be stored in such place as, in the customs officer's opinion, is most convenient and appropriate with due regard to the expense involved, whether or not the place of storage is within the judicial district or the customs collection district in which the property was seized; and storage of the property outside the judicial district or customs collection district in which it was seized shall in no way affect the jurisdiction of the court which would otherwise have jurisdiction over such property.

 

§1606. Seizure; appraisement

The appropriate customs officer shall determine the domestic value, at the time and place of appraisement, of any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage seized under the customs laws.

 

§1607. Seizure; value $500,000 or less, prohibited articles, transporting conveyances

(a) Notice of seizure

If—

(1) the value of such seized vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage does not exceed $500,000;

(2) such seized merchandise is merchandise the importation of which is prohibited;

(3) such seized vessel, vehicle, or aircraft was used to import, export, transport, or store any controlled substance or listed chemical; or

(4) such seized merchandise is any monetary instrument within the meaning of section 5312(a)(3) of title 31;

the appropriate customs officer shall cause a notice of the seizure of such articles and the intention to forfeit and sell or otherwise dispose of the same according to law to be published for at least three successive weeks in such manner as the Secretary of the Treasury may direct. Written notice of seizure together with information on the applicable procedures shall be sent to each party who appears to have an interest in the seized article.

(b) “Controlled substance” and “listed chemical” defined

As used in this section, the terms “controlled substance” and “listed chemical” have the meaning given such terms in section 802 of title 21.

(c) Report to Congress

The Commissioner of Customs shall submit to the Congress, by no later than February 1 of each fiscal year, a report on the total dollar value of uncontested seizures of monetary instruments having a value of over $100,000 which, or the proceeds of which, have not been deposited into the Customs Forfeiture Fund under section 1613b of this title within 120 days of seizure, as of the end of the previous fiscal year.

 

§1608. Seizure; claims; judicial condemnation

Any person claiming such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage may at any time within twenty days from the date of the first publication of the notice of seizure file with the appropriate customs officer a claim stating his interest therein. Upon the filing of such claim, and the giving of a bond to the United States in the penal sum of $5,000 or 10 percent of the value of the claimed property, whichever is lower, but not less than $250, with sureties to be approved by such customs officer, conditioned that in case of condemnation of the articles so claimed the obligor shall pay all the costs and expenses of the proceedings to obtain such condemnation, such customs officer shall transmit such claim and bond, with a duplicate list and description of the articles seized, to the United States attorney for the district in which seizure was made, who shall proceed to a condemnation of the merchandise or other property in the manner prescribed by law.

 

§1609. Seizure; summary forfeiture and sale

(a) In general

If no such claim is filed or bond given within the twenty days hereinbefore specified, the appropriate customs officer shall declare the vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage forfeited, and shall sell the same at public auction in the same manner as merchandise abandoned to the United States is sold or otherwise dispose of the same according to law, and shall deposit the proceeds of sale, after deducting the expenses described in section 1613 of this title, into the Customs Forfeiture Fund.

(b) Effect

A declaration of forfeiture under this section shall have the same force and effect as a final decree and order of forfeiture in a judicial forfeiture proceeding in a district court of the United States. Title shall be deemed to vest in the United States free and clear of any liens or encumbrances (except for first preferred ship mortgages pursuant to subsection O of section 30 of the Ship Mortgage Act, 1920 (46 U.S.C. App. 961) or any corresponding revision, consolidation, and enactment of such subsection in title 46) from the date of the act for which the forfeiture was incurred. Officials of the various States, insular possessions, territories, and commonwealths of the United States shall, upon application of the appropriate customs officer accompanied by a certified copy of the declaration of forfeiture, remove any recorded liens or encumbrances which apply to such property and issue or reissue the necessary certificates of title, registration certificates, or similar documents to the United States or to any transferee of the United States.

 

§1610. Seizure; judicial forfeiture proceedings

If any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage is not subject to section 1607 of this title, the appropriate customs officer shall transmit a report of the case, with the names of available witnesses, to the United States attorney for the district in which the seizure was made for the institution of the proper proceedings for the condemnation of such property.

 

§1611. Seizure; sale unlawful

If the sale of any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage forfeited under the customs laws in the district in which seizure thereof was made be prohibited by the laws of the State in which such district is located, or if a sale may be made more advantageously in any other district, the Secretary of the Treasury may order such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage to be transferred for sale in any customs district in which the sale thereof may be permitted. Upon the request of the Secretary of the Treasury, any court may, in proceedings for the forfeiture of any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage under the customs laws, provide in its decree of forfeiture that the vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage, so forfeited, shall be delivered to the Secretary of the Treasury for disposition in accordance with the provisions of this section. If the Secretary of the Treasury is satisfied that the proceeds of any sale will not be sufficient to pay the costs thereof, he may order a destruction by the customs officers: Provided, That any merchandise forfeited under the customs laws, the sale or use of which is prohibited under any law of the United States or of any State, may, in the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury, be destroyed, or remanufactured into an article that is not prohibited, the resulting article to be disposed of to the profit of the United States only.

 

§1612. Seizure; summary sale

(a) Whenever it appears to the Customs Service that any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage seized under the customs laws is liable to perish or to waste or to be greatly reduced in value by keeping, or that the expense of keeping the same is disproportionate to the value thereof, and such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage is subject to section 1607 of this title, and such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage has not been delivered under bond, the Customs Service shall proceed forthwith to advertise and sell the same at auction under regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury. If such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage is not subject to section 1607 of this title, the Customs Service shall forthwith transmit its report of the seizure to the United States attorney, who shall petition the court to order an immediate sale of such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage, and if the ends of justice require it the court shall order such immediate sale, the proceeds thereof to be deposited with the court to await the final determination of the condemnation proceedings. Whether such sale be made by the Customs Service or by order of the court, the proceeds thereof shall be held subject to claims of parties in interest to the same extent as the vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage so sold would have been subject to such claim.

(b) If the Customs Service determines that the expense of keeping the vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage is disproportionate to the value thereof, the Customs Service may promptly order the destruction or other appropriate disposition of such property under regulations prescribed by the Secretary. No customs officer shall be liable for the destruction or other disposition of property made pursuant to this section.

 

§1613. Disposition of proceeds of forfeited property

(a) Application for remission of forfeiture and restoration of proceeds of sale; disposition of proceeds when no application has been made

Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, any person claiming any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage, or any interest therein, which has been forfeited and sold under the provisions of this chapter, may at any time within three months after the date of sale apply to the Secretary of the Treasury if the forfeiture and sale was under the customs laws, or to the Commandant of the Coast Guard or the Commissioner of Customs, as the case may be, if the forfeiture and sale was under the navigation laws, for a remission of the forfeiture and restoration of the proceeds of such sale, or such part thereof as may be claimed by him. Upon the production of satisfactory proof that the applicant did not know of the seizure prior to the declaration or condemnation of forfeiture, and was in such circumstances as prevented him from knowing of the same, and that such forfeiture was incurred without any willful negligence or intention to defraud on the part of the applicant, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, or the Commissioner of Customs may order the proceeds of the sale, or any part thereof, restored to the applicant, after deducting the cost of seizure and of sale, the duties, if any, accruing on the merchandise or baggage, and any sum due on a lien for freight, charges, or contribution in general average that may have been filed. If no application for such remission or restoration is made within three months after such sale, or if the application be denied by the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, or the Commissioner of Customs, the proceeds of sale shall be disposed of as follows:

(1) For the payment of all proper expenses of the proceedings of forfeiture and sale, including expenses of seizure, maintaining the custody of the property, advertising and sale, and if condemned by a decree of a district court and a bond for such costs was not given, the costs as taxed by the court;

(2) For the satisfaction of liens for freight, charges, and contributions in general average, notice of which has been filed with the appropriate customs officer according to law; and

(3) The residue shall be deposited in the general fund of the Treasury of the United States.

(b) Disposition of proceeds in excess of penalty assessed under section 1592

If merchandise is forfeited under section 1592 of this title, any proceeds from the sale thereof in excess of the monetary penalty finally assessed thereunder and the expenses and costs described in subsection (a)(1) and (2) of this section or subsection (a)(1), (a)(3), or (a)(4) of section 1613b of this title incurred in such sale shall be returned to the person against whom the penalty was assessed.

(c) Treatment of deposits

If property is seized by the Secretary under law enforced or administered by the Customs Service, or otherwise acquired under section 1605 of this title, and relief from the forfeiture is granted by the Secretary, or his designee, upon terms requiring the deposit or retention of a monetary amount in lieu of the forfeiture, the amount recovered shall be treated in the same manner as the proceeds of sale of a forfeited item.

(d) Expenses

In any judicial or administrative proceeding to forfeit property under any law enforced or administered by the Customs Service or the Coast Guard, the seizure, storage, and other expenses related to the forfeiture that are incurred by the Customs Service or the Coast Guard after the seizure, but before the institution of, or during, the proceedings, shall be a priority claim in the same manner as the court costs and the expenses of the Federal marshal.

 

§1613a. Repealed. Pub. L. 99–514, title XVIII, §1888(7), Oct. 22, 1986, 100 Stat. 2925

 

§1613b. Customs Forfeiture Fund

(a) In general

(1) There is established in the Treasury of the United States a fund to be known as the “Customs Forfeiture Fund” (hereafter in this section referred to as the “Fund”), which shall be available to the United States Customs Service, subject to appropriation, with respect to seizures and forfeitures by the United States Customs Service and the United States Coast Guard under any law enforced or administered by those agencies for payment, or for reimbursement to the appropriation from which payment was made, for—

(A) all proper expenses of the seizure (including investigative costs incurred by the United States Customs Service leading to seizures) or the proceedings of forfeiture and sale, including, but not limited to, the expenses of inventory, security, and maintenance of custody of the property, advertisement and sale of the property, and if condemned by the court and a bond for such costs was not given, the costs as taxed by the court;

(B) awards of compensation to informers under section 1619 of this title;

(C) satisfaction of—

(i) liens for freight, charges, and contributions in general average, notice of which has been filed with the appropriate customs officer according to law, and

(ii) other liens against forfeited property;

(D) amounts authorized by law with respect to remission and mitigation;

(E) claims of parties in interest to property disposed of under section 1612(b) of this title, in the amounts applicable to such claims at the time of seizure; and

(F) equitable sharing payments made to other Federal agencies, State and local law enforcement agencies, and foreign countries under the authority of section 1616a(c) of this title or section 981 of title 18.

(2)(A) Any payment made under subparagraph (C) or (D) of paragraph (1) with respect to a seizure or a forfeiture of property shall not exceed the value of the property at the time of the seizure.

(B) Any payment made under subparagraph (F) of paragraph (1) with respect to a seizure or forfeiture of property shall not exceed the value of the property at the time of disposition.

(3) In addition to the purposes described in paragraph (1), the Fund shall be available for—

(A) purchases by the United States Customs Service of evidence of—

(i) smuggling of controlled substances, and

(ii) violations of the currency and foreign transaction reporting requirements of chapter 51 of title 31, if there is a substantial probability that the violations of these requirements are related to the smuggling of controlled substances;

(B) equipment for any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft available for official use by the United States Customs Service to enable the vessel, vehicle, or aircraft to assist in law enforcement functions;

(C) the reimbursement, at the discretion of the Secretary, of private persons for expenses incurred by such persons in cooperating with the United States Customs Service in investigations and undercover law enforcement operations;

(D) publication of the availability of awards under section 1619 of this title;

(E) equipment for any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft available for official use by a State or local law enforcement agency to enable the vessel, vehicle, or aircraft to assist in law enforcement functions if the conveyance will be used in joint law enforcement operations with the United States Customs Service; and

(F) payment of overtime salaries, travel, fuel, training, equipment, and other similar costs of State and local law enforcement officers that are incurred in joint law enforcement operations with the United States Customs Service.

(b) United States Coast Guard

The Commissioner of Customs shall make available to the United States Coast Guard, from funds appropriated under subsection (f)(2) of this section in excess of $10,000,000 for a fiscal year, proceeds in the Fund derived from seizures by the Coast Guard. Funds made available under this subsection may be used for—

(1) equipment for any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft available for official use by the United States Coast Guard to enable the vessel, vehicle, or aircraft to assist in law enforcement functions;

(2) equipment for any vessel, vehicle, equipment, or aircraft available for official use by a State or local law enforcement agency to enable the vessel, vehicle, or aircraft to assist in law enforcement functions if the conveyance will be used in joint law enforcement operations with the United States Coast Guard;

(3) payment of overtime salaries, travel, fuel, training, equipment, and other similar costs of State and local law enforcement officers that are incurred in joint law enforcement operations with the United States Coast Guard; and

(4) expenses incurred in bringing vessels into compliance with applicable environmental laws prior to disposal by sinking.

(c) Deposits

There shall be deposited into the Fund all forfeited currency and proceeds from forfeiture under any law enforced or administered by the United States Customs Service or the United States Coast Guard and all income from investments made under subsection (d) of this section.

(d) Investment

Amounts in the Fund which are not currently needed for the purposes of this section shall be invested in obligations of, or guaranteed by, the United States.

(e) Annual reports; audits

(1) The Commissioner of Customs shall transmit to the Congress, by no later than February 1 of each fiscal year the following detailed reports:

(A) a report on—

(i) the estimated total value of property forfeited under any law enforced or administered by the United States Customs Service or the United States Coast Guard with respect to which funds were not deposited in the Fund during the previous fiscal year, and

(ii) the estimated total value of all such property transferred to any State or local law enforcement agency;

(B) a report on—

(i) the balance of the Fund at the beginning of the preceding fiscal year;

(ii) liens and mortgages paid and amount of money shared with State and local law enforcement agencies during the previous fiscal year;

(iii) the net amount realized from the operations of the Fund during the previous fiscal year, the amount of seized cash being held as evidence, and the amount of money that has been carried over to the current fiscal year;

(iv) any defendant's equity in property valued at $1,000,000 or more;

(v) the balance of the Fund at the end of the previous fiscal year; and

(C) a report containing, for the previous fiscal year—

(i) a complete set of audited financial statements (including a balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow analysis) prepared in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Comptroller General, and

(ii) an analysis of income and expenses showing the revenue received or lost—

(I) by property category (general property, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, cash, and real property) and

(II) by type of disposition (sales, remissions, cancellations, placed into official use, sharing with State and local agencies, and destructions).

(2) The Fund shall be subject to audits conducted by the Comptroller General of the United States, under such conditions as the Comptroller General determines appropriate.

(f) Authorization of appropriations

(1) There are hereby appropriated from the Fund such sums as may be necessary to carry out the purposes set forth in subsection (a)(1) of this section.

(2)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), there are authorized to be appropriated from the Fund not to exceed $20,000,000 for each fiscal year to carry out the purposes set forth in subsections (a)(3) and (b) of this section for such fiscal year.

(B) Of the amount authorized to be appropriated under subparagraph (A), not to exceed the following, shall be available to carry out the purposes set forth in subsection (a)(3) of this section:

(i) $14,855,000 for fiscal year 1991.

(ii) $15,598,000 for fiscal year 1992.

(3) At the end of each fiscal year, any unobligated amount in excess of $15,000,000 remaining in the Fund shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States.

 

§1614. Release of seized property

If any person claiming an interest in any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage seized under the provisions of this chapter offers to pay the value of such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage, as determined under section 1606 of this title, and it appears that such person has in fact a substantial interest therein, the appropriate customs officer may, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury if under the customs laws, or the Commandant of the Coast Guard or the Commissioner of Customs, as the case may be, if under the navigation laws, accept such offer and release the vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage seized upon the payment of such value thereof, which shall be distributed in the order provided in section 1613 of this title.

 

§1615. Burden of proof in forfeiture proceedings

In all suits or actions (other than those arising under section 1592 of this title) brought for the forfeiture of any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage seized under the provisions of any law relating to the collection of duties on imports or tonnage, where the property is claimed by any person, the burden of proof shall lie upon such claimant; and in all suits or actions brought for the recovery of the value of any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage, because of violation of any such law, the burden of proof shall be upon the defendant: Provided, That probable cause shall be first shown for the institution of such suit or action, to be judged of by the court, subject to the following rules of proof:

(1) The testimony or deposition of the officer of the customs who has boarded or required to come to a stop or seized a vessel, vehicle, or aircraft, or has arrested a person, shall be prima facie evidence of the place where the act in question occurred.

(2) Marks, labels, brands, or stamps, indicative of foreign origin, upon or accompanying mechandise 1 or containers of merchandise, shall be prima facie evidence of the foreign origin of such merchandise.

(3) The fact that a vessel of any description is found, or discovered to have been, in the vicinity of any hovering vessel and under any circumstances indicating contact or communication therewith, whether by proceeding to or from such vessel, or by coming to in the vicinity of such vessel, or by delivering to or receiving from such vessel any merchandise, person, or communication, or by any other means effecting contact or communication therewith, shall be prima facie evidence that the vessel in question has visited such hovering vessel.

 

§1616. Repealed. Pub. L. 99–570, title I, §1863(b), Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207–54

 

§1616a. Disposition of forfeited property

(a) State proceedings

The Secretary of the Treasury may discontinue forfeiture proceedings under this chapter in favor of forfeiture under State law. If a complaint for forfeiture is filed under this chapter, the Attorney General may seek dismissal of the complaint in favor of forfeiture under State law.

(b) Transfer of seized property; notice

If forfeiture proceedings are discontinued or dismissed under this section—

(1) the United States may transfer the seized property to the appropriate State or local official; and

(2) notice of the discontinuance or dismissal shall be provided to all known interested parties.

(c) Retention or transfer of forfeited property

(1) The Secretary of the Treasury may apply property forfeited under this chapter in accordance with subparagraph (A) or (B), or both:

(A) Retain any of the property for official use.

(B) Transfer any of the property to—

(i) any other Federal agency;

(ii) any State or local law enforcement agency that participated directly or indirectly in the seizure or forfeiture of the property; or

(iii) the Civil Air Patrol.

(2) The Secretary may transfer any forfeited personal property or the proceeds of the sale of any forfeited personal or real property to any foreign country which participated directly or indirectly in the seizure or forfeiture of the property, if such a transfer—

(A) has been agreed to by the Secretary of State;

(B) is authorized in an international agreement between the United States and the foreign country; and

(C) is made to a country which, if applicable, has been certified under section 2291j(b) of title 22.

(3) Aircraft may be transferred to the Civil Air Patrol under paragraph (1)(B)(iii) in support of air search and rescue and other emergency services and, pursuant to a memorandum of understanding entered into with a Federal agency, illegal drug traffic surveillance. Jet-powered aircraft may not be transferred to the Civil Air Patrol under the authority of paragraph (1)(B)(iii).

(d) Liability of United States after transfer

The United States shall not be liable in any action relating to property transferred under this section if such action is based on an act or omission occurring after the transfer.

 

§1617. Compromise of Government claims by Secretary of the Treasury

Upon a report by a customs officer, United States attorney, or any special attorney, having charge of any claim arising under the customs laws, showing the facts upon which such claim is based, the probabilities of a recovery and the terms upon which the same may be compromised, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to compromise such claim, if such action shall be recommended by the General Counsel for the Department of the Treasury.

 

§1618. Remission or mitigation of penalties

Whenever any person interested in any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage seized under the provisions of this chapter, or who has incurred, or is alleged to have incurred, any fine or penalty thereunder, files with the Secretary of the Treasury if under the customs laws, and with the Commandant of the Coast Guard or the Commissioner of Customs, as the case may be, if under the navigation laws, before the sale of such vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage a petition for the remission or mitigation of such fine, penalty, or forfeiture, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, or the Commissioner of Customs, if he finds that such fine, penalty, or forfeiture was incurred without willful negligence or without any intention on the part of the petitioner to defraud the revenue or to violate the law, or finds the existence of such mitigating circumstances as to justify the remission or mitigation of such fine, penalty, or forfeiture, may remit or mitigate the same upon such terms and conditions as he deems reasonable and just, or order discontinuance of any prosecution relating thereto. In order to enable him to ascertain the facts, the Secretary of the Treasury may issue a commission to any customs officer to take testimony upon such petition: Provided, That nothing in this section shall be construed to deprive any person of an award of compensation made before the filing of such petition.

 

§1619. Award of compensation to informers

(a) In general

If—

(1) any person who is not an employee or officer of the United States—

(A) detects and seizes any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage subject to seizure and forfeiture under the customs laws or the navigation laws and reports such detection and seizure to a customs officer, or

(B) furnishes to a United States attorney, the Secretary of the Treasury, or any customs officer original information concerning—

(i) any fraud upon the customs revenue, or

(ii) any violation of the customs laws or the navigation laws which is being, or has been, perpetrated or contemplated by any other person; and

(2) such detection and seizure or such information leads to a recovery of—

(A) any duties withheld, or

(B) any fine, penalty, or forfeiture of property incurred;

the Secretary may award and pay such person an amount that does not exceed 25 percent of the net amount so recovered.

(b) Forfeited property not sold

If—

(1) any vessel, vehicle, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage is forfeited to the United States and is thereafter, in lieu of sale—

(A) destroyed under the customs or navigation laws, or

(B) delivered to any governmental agency for official use, and

(2) any person would be eligible to receive an award under subsection (a) of this section but for the lack of sale of such forfeited property,

the Secretary may award and pay such person an amount that does not exceed 25 percent of the appraised value of such forfeited property.

(c) Dollar limitation

The amount awarded and paid to any person under this section may not exceed $250,000 for any case.

(d) Source of payment

Unless otherwise provided by law, any amount paid under this section shall be paid out of appropriations available for the collection of the customs revenue.

(e) Recovery of bail bond

For purposes of this section, an amount recovered under a bail bond shall be deemed a recovery of a fine incurred.

 

§1620. Acceptance of money by United States officers

Any officer of the United States who directly or indirectly receives, accepts, or contracts for any portion of the money which may accrue to any person making such detection and seizure, or furnishing such information, shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or both, and shall be thereafter ineligible to any office of honor, trust, or emolument. Any such person who pays to any such officer, or to any person for the use of such officer, any portion of such money, or anything of value for or because of such money, shall have a right of action against such officer, or his legal representatives, or against such person, or his legal representatives, and shall be entitled to recover the money so paid or the thing of value so given.

 

§1621. Limitation of actions

No suit or action to recover any duty under section 1592(d), 1593a(d) of this title, or any pecuniary penalty or forfeiture of property accruing under the customs laws shall be instituted unless such suit or action is commenced within five years after the time when the alleged offense was discovered, or in the case of forfeiture, within 2 years after the time when the involvement of the property in the alleged offense was discovered, whichever was later; except that—

(1) in the case of an alleged violation of section 1592 or 1593a of this title, no suit or action (including a suit or action for restoration of lawful duties under subsection (d) of such sections) may be instituted unless commenced within 5 years after the date of the alleged violation or, if such violation arises out of fraud, within 5 years after the date of discovery of fraud, and

(2) the time of the absence from the United States of the person subject to the penalty or forfeiture, or of any concealment or absence of the property, shall not be reckoned within the 5-year period of limitation.