California Attorneys See a Spike in Asset Seizures on U.S.-Mexico Border

San Diego, CA, October 06, 2020 --( Civil forfeiture, also known as asset seizures, is a relatively unknown, yet highly controversial practice whereby state and government agencies confiscate cash and belongings from individuals who are merely suspected of a crime. While these cases can occur anywhere in the country, there has been a high concentration of incidents coming from border state regions. As a result, California-based San Diego Defenders is warning anyone traveling to-or-from Mexico that they may be subjected to having their assets confiscated, even though they have not committed a typical crime, but have neglected to file a FinCen document declaring the cash.

"Our law firm is seeing a sharp rise in cases where individuals attempt to go into Mexico with large amounts of cash or other assets, only to have them taken by the government," said Dan Smith, founder of San Diego Defenders, who handles forfeiture cases both state and nationwide.

“These individuals get frightened and don't bother to contest their case, but in most cases involving personal legal uses for money, there's a good chance of getting it returned,” he added.

Law enforcement agencies have been using asset seizures as a mechanism to legally take property without the need to convict individuals of a crime. Only a preponderance of the evidence is required and while there are legitimate circumstances that justify property confiscation, many innocent people often become victims of this process.

Smith's firm recently handled a case involving a woman who traveled to Mexico from the United States for cosmetic surgery and intended to pay for the procedure with cash. She was stopped at the border with suspicion and her cash was taken without the ability to contest her case. Smith's firm was ultimately successful in getting her money returned.

"Authorities are using more aggressive tactics in these types of cases," said Smith. "Those traveling to or from Mexico need to be aware that authorities will be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, which includes possessing a large amount of cash."

Smith does not recommend attempting to handle these cases alone and cautioned that time is of the essence. Individuals have only thirty days from the date of seizure publication to take action before they lose their assets for good.

For more information, visit or call 619-258-8888.
San Diego Defenders
Dan Smith