United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement tightly controls everything that comes in and out of the United States. It is illegal to transport certain goods and items across a U.S. border, and other goods and items are strictly regulated. The act of evading ICE or other U.S. officials to transport something into the country is called smuggling or trafficking.
Smuggling charges are tried under federal law. It is important to be represented by an attorney who not only is licensed and experienced in federal courts, but understands the intricacies and defenses in trafficking law.
Philadelphia Smuggling Defense Lawyer
The dedicated legal team at Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC are not only aggressive and zealous advocates, are not only experienced in federal courts and federal procedure, but also have rare experience with smuggling defense. We will put our experience to work for you to build a strong defense that will challenge the evidence prosecutors bring forward. Call us today to schedule a consultation at (215) 665-1695.
We are based in Philadelphia, but are able to represent those facing smuggling charges in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and across the United States.
Pennsylvania Smuggling and Trafficking Information Center
- Smuggling Law Generally in the United States
- Smuggling Animals and Animal Products Into Pennsylvania
- Trafficking Guns and Firearms Into Philadelphia
- Bulk Cash Smuggling
Every item that crosses the border must go through Customs and be inventoried and/or invoiced, whether it is on someone's person, in someone's luggage, on a cargo ship, in a train or on a truck. Everyone must disclose everything they are bringing in. Some items are not allowed into the United States and others require special procedures.
18 U.S. Code § 545 states it is a crime to knowingly and willfully, with the intent to defraud the United States government, secretly bring in any good into the country that should have been declared or inventoried, whether it was by a false invoice or because the item was concealed. The mere possession of any good that came into the United States illegally is sufficient evidence under the law to convict.
The penalty for breaking this law is up to 20 years in federal prison and/or fines, plus forfeiture of the illegal good. Any smuggling conviction is likely to have a dire impacts on a person's immigration status if he or she is not a U.S. citizen.
Many items that could be smuggled are covered by separate treaties or laws, which can carry their own penalties. Smuggling and trafficking cases are tried in federal court under federal law. Smuggling law is largely enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), though other federal agencies may also be involved, like the FBI, Homeland Security, or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
In 1973, the United States signed onto the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty including most nations in the world that regulates trafficking of animals and plants. The treaty set very strict requirements on exchange of animals that are considered endangered.
Except under very limited circumstances, there may be no sale of any animal threatened with extinction that is caught in the wild. This includes:
- Big cats, including tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards and cheetahs;
- Many monkeys and apes, including chimpanzees, lemurs and snow macaques;
- Rare birds, including some species of parrots and macaws; and
- Certain reptiles, such as endangered species of turtles, crocodiles and pythons.
The purpose of transporting the animals does not matter. If the accused is suspected of smuggling a tiger cub to keep as a pet, he or she may face the same penalties as someone smuggling the tiger cub to raise and skin for a rug.
In addition to smuggling the animals themselves, CITES, and therefore the United States, bans trafficking in any animal products derived from endangered animals. One of the most common such products is ivory that is derived from endangered animals, like elephants. Elephant ivory is rare and very valuable, and there are international ivory smuggling rings.
Furs and other products from endangered species, like rhinoceros horn, are also illegal and can land significant fines and jail time, on top of forfeiture of any product determined to be illegal.
At Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC, our defense lawyers in Philadelphia have experience in federal court representing those accused of smuggling ivory, experience we can put to work for you.
Anyone transporting firearms, ammo and explosives in and out of the United States must have a permit from the U.S. government to do so. Even weapons that are legal in the United States can result in up to 10 years in prison, fines and forfeitures if one is convicted of smuggling them in or out of the country.
Unlike most other smuggling accusations, which have to do with people illegally bringing products into the United States, many firearms smuggling accusations actually involve the suspect exporting weapons from the United States into other countries, like Mexico.
If you are from the country you are accused of smuggling to and not a U.S. citizen, you could face prison time in the United States and then be deported to your home country, where you may also face charges and whatever penalties might await you there. Our attorneys can only represent you in the United States.
Any time more than $10,000 crosses a U.S. border, whether by mail, courier or in someone's luggage, it must be reported to ICE, whether it is in U.S. currency or some other currency. It is a crime to take more than $10,000 in and out of the country without properly reporting it. This is called "bulk cash smuggling," and it can result in up to five years in prison and forfeiture of the cash to the U.S. government.
Bulk cash smuggling is often done with the intention of money laundering in connection with other criminal organizations. However, the law does not require other criminal connections for a conviction, only the intent to evade a reporting requirement.
Your defense lawyer may be able to show reasonable doubt by showing the possibility that you transported the cash on accident.
Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC | Philadelphia Trafficking Attorney
If you face smuggling charges anywhere in the United States, a Philly smuggling defense lawyer can defend you. You can have an attorney experienced in representing those accused of smuggling or trafficking by contacting Alva & Shuttleworth, LLC. We will fight for your rights. Call us today at (215) 665-1695 to set up a consultation.