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Old 13-08-2013, 20:50   #16
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Re: US Customs Issue

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So, I've got a small issue with US Customs. Well, I don't have the issue, my boat does. It seems my vessel has been red flagged by Customs due to the previous owner not bothering to clear Customs when he returned from the Bahamas to the States. I've had her about a year now, and every time Customs is at the marina I'm docked at, they pay my boat a visit and inspect her. I was told it was because of the PO not clearing customs, once they found out about it they went to the boat and found alcohol and plants on board that had not been declared. Nothing illegal, but just not declaring them. My question is there anything I can do to get them to pull the red flag off my boat? I mean, I've got nothing to hide, but its getting somewhat annoying and when I go to sell her, that's going to drive people away.
Change the name and change marinas?
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Old 13-08-2013, 21:15   #17
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Re: US Customs Issue

Don't run that shows some form of guilt. Me I would get a guest book and have each one of them sign and print their name, date and time. That is if they ask permission to board. If they just step on board ask them to step off. Ask for a search warrant. If they refuse to show one then inform them they are in violation of the 4th Amendment. Write down all their name and badge #. Could get nasty but hold your ground and visit with your congress person.

Always be polite and respectful in all your actions. Have a dock mate wonder by to be a witness.

It would be good policy to get all guest to sign in. Could help someone working on their captain license.
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Old 13-08-2013, 21:54   #18
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Re: US Customs Issue

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Originally Posted by Kevin84 View Post
. My question is there anything I can do to get them to pull the red flag off my boat? I mean, I've got nothing to hide, .


Let me start by saying I'm not from the USA and dont know your system.

Its a very important question you raise because if red flagged by the USA it will be red flagged in every country that shares information with the USA (Kinda think all the good-guy countries in the world!).

This is the sort of thing I am thinking:

1) a personal approach to a person as high up as you can to discuss the matter.
2) When you next haul the boat out invite the Customs to come and have a good look and bring a sniffing dog, whatever. (maybe combined with 1)
3) Keep a file of every receipt on the boat so you can show a chain of honesty. And ensure you show it to every official who boards. Remember that when they are busting criminals they require a causal chain of evidence. You are doing the same but in reverse.
4) If you have an AIS transponder leave it on 24/7 and record same and show as in 3)

I think an honest person can prove their honesty and integrity, and its worth doing it. All a well trained policeman/ customs/official etc needs to do if get a few minutes with you, your boat and story and they will see you are not a criminal. (Don't wear a Humphrey Bogart panama hat!)

I wouldnt be complaining to politicians etc. I think that stuff raises more red flags than it solves.


Your name and its link with integrity will win out if you are reasonable and proactive.

Mark
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Old 14-08-2013, 04:37   #19
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Re: US Customs Issue

Kevin

So far you have offered very little information about what US Customs is actually doing...

Please explain how many times they have boarded your boat since you have owned it and if the boat had been moved or was moving prior to boarding?

What do these Customs Agents do when they come on your boat? Do they go through everything? Just walk through the vessel? Or stand on the dock and talk to you?

Is this marina you are berthed in Federal Property?

Do the US Customs Agents who board your vessel offer any paper work for you to sign or read?

Have you called the local US Customs Office and asked a SUPERVISOR what is going on and to explain exactly what a Red Flag is and/or the circumstances surrounding your vessel. Also why they are boarding your vessel without a search warrant?

As I said before, US Customs can't just walk on a boat that is tied to its home dock because they want to... They have to have probable cause or a search warrant when the vessel is not moving and tied to a dock.

I would suggest you should begin a diary of everything that has happened for a possible Law Suit for harassment and violation of your Constitutional Rights under the 4th Amendment. The would include names, dates and descriptions of what happened each time, including any telephone calls or emails.

On the other hand, I still suspect there is more to this than either you are telling or you know....

Calling a US Customs Supervisor who is in charge of these Agents who are boarding your vessel is the quickest why to understand what is going on.

Remember, if they do find anything illegal on your boat, you will go to jail.

I would also suggest you contact a Criminal Lawyer, if US Customs does not provide you a satisfactory answer or they continue boarding your vessel.
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Old 14-08-2013, 05:09   #20
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Re: US Customs Issue

Tom, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but there are two agencies in the US government that do not need a warrant or even probable cause to board and search a boat, even in it's home slip. The are the USCG and Customs and Border Patrol. You don't even have to be on board, they can cut off locks or bust through hatches, or do what ever else they have to do to get in. They don't normally do this without good cause as it would mostly be a waste of their time, not to mention causing them a lot of bad press. There have been many other threads about this on CF over the years. The rules/laws were basically written before there were such things as recreational boats, that is when virtually all boats were used for commercial purposes. They have never been changed, though I would believe they should be. It is ludicris in my opinion that the 4th amendment does not apply to boats or more precisely to people on boats, buut it doesn't. Sans a new supreme court ruling or some new laws passed by congress we are stuck. You might notice that you never hear of them pulling this kind of crap on megayachts. It doesn't pay to pick on people with money and power, they can cause trouble. Unless one has a lot of money to spend on lawyers to take this to the supreme court or a lot of influence with congress nothing is going to get done. Maybe someone in the ACLU will decide that boaters are a picked on minority and take up the cause for us, but I doubt it.
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Old 14-08-2013, 06:11   #21
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Re: US Customs Issue

In Georgia, USA, when you state register a vessel is specifies that by accepting the registration you give approval for your vessel to be boarded at any time by law enforcement.

I read recently that there is a fight starting up to remove this stipulation. The same rules for searching a boat should be the same as a home or vehicle. By permission or warrant only. I don't even like "probable cause". That can be abused easily.
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Old 14-08-2013, 06:18   #22
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Re: US Customs Issue

How about "Reasonable suspicion" ?
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Old 14-08-2013, 06:43   #23
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Re: US Customs Issue

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Are you certain that it is not ICE officers? The would regularly (once every 3 months) do a sweep of the marina I was living in, in San Diego. They would check papers of all hispanic workers looking for illegals (oops, sorry, undocumented) workers.
They came by RIB, orange and loaded with firearms, comm's, bullet proof vests and attitude. Living aboard I got to know them and they always asked permission to board, polite, but businesslike. They even accepted ice tea after we got to know each other! Generally, good guys but I wouldn't want to mess with them. It was hilarious to see the workers without documentation head for the gate in a mob only to be met by a couple of these guys waiting for them in the parking lot with their ICE van. They were all back across the border within a week or two and working on the same boats they had left.
It taught me that this country is NOT serious about immigration. Basically, both sides were good guys and women, one trying to do an impossible job and the others trying to pick up a few yankee dollars. As an immigrant myself (legal), I have a lot of sympathy for both sides. Phil
They do that here in KW as well, BUT have always walked away after a bit of whining when I refuse them to board my vessel at the slip.

"No sir, you may NOT board my home, and I will not show you ID unless you can articulate your suspicion that I have committed a crime"

Works every time!
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Old 14-08-2013, 07:15   #24
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Re: US Customs Issue

When do they come see you? Is it just every so often? After you have gone sailing. What do you do to cause them to just drop by?

If its every time you go sailing I would tare the boat apart looking for a tracking device.

I agree there is more to the story here.

The only time I was boarded by the CG they asked permission to come aboard. We were at anchor.
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Old 14-08-2013, 09:04   #25
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Re: US Customs Issue

Sorry, I've been using my mobile, do it's hard to put much info. The inspect her whenever they happen to be at the marina, which is usually once or twice a month. Yes, they ask permission to board, but as more of a courtesy. If we're not home, they don't board as we have 3 cats on board and they prefer not to deal with animals without the owners present. As for the inspection, they don't year up things but they do look in drawers, cabinets, etc. They're generally polite and leave after a few min. No, the boats name ha not been changed. Haven't had a chance to haul her and do it properly.
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Old 14-08-2013, 10:03   #26
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Re: US Customs Issue

"No, the boats name ha not been changed."

Well there you are. If your name was "Adolph Hitler" you'd get funny looks everytime you gave someone your name, wouldn't you? Doesn't matter if you're on or off the list, the problem is that the name already is known and recognized even if you aren't the same fellow.

You've been given all sorts of good advice as to how to stop the problem, so the only question is, do you want to stop it?

If so, then you CC the same letter to your CongressCritter, and the local Customs supervisor, and whoever else might be in charge or able to get your boat's name off any current lists. AND you make it your business to change the name on the boat because every local watercop probably knows and remembers the name, and they aren't even going to check the list, all they know is "Adolph Hitler" and you're going to get the funny looks from them.

This is one reason folks rename a boat when they buy it, so they're not mistaken for the previous owners.
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Old 14-08-2013, 10:48   #27
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Re: US Customs Issue

I would get on the phone to the district supervisor and explain your situation in a calm, rational fashion, what the issue is without attacking anyone, and ask for their help in resolving the problem. Most encounters I've had with the upper echelon individuals were very positive and my problem got handled in an efficient manner with a minimum of fuss. If you don't get the answer you want, keep going up the ladder until you get to someone that will take care of it.
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Old 14-08-2013, 11:45   #28
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Re: US Customs Issue

Quote:
  • contact a Criminal Lawyer,
  • Law Suit for harassment and violation of your Constitutional Rights under the 4th Amendment.
  • someone in the ACLU will decide that boaters are a picked on minority and take up the cause for us,
  • By permission or warrant only. I don't even like "probable cause". That can be abused easily
  • "No sir, you may NOT board my home, and I will not show you ID unless you can articulate your suspicion that I have committed a crime"
  • If its every time you go sailing I would tare the boat apart looking for a tracking device.
  • letter to your CongressCritter
LOL if thats the advice you get no wonder people in law enforcement in the USA get a bum deal.

The only bit advice I would take is this one:

Quote:
captain58sailin:
explain your situation in a calm, rational fashion, what the issue is without attacking anyone, and ask for their help in resolving the problem.
Beats the hell outta kicking some poor ininocent Customs Officer. And would be much cheaper than a law suit, faster than a letter to a politician... and as C58 says: RATIONAL!

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Old 14-08-2013, 13:07   #29
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Re: US Customs Issue

ACLU, ROFLMAO.
Buncha bleeding heart urban liberal Democrats who just know that Yachtsmen are all evil rich rwhite epublicans not worthy of any consideration. [sic]

Boaters will never have their fourth amendment rights until and unless someone dedicates about ten years to pushing a case all the way up to the USSC, because no lower court is going to reverse a couple of hundred years of uniform errors.

OTOH, Larry Ellison is a yachtsmen, and he's got the time and money to Do Good for the sport. I'm picturing a USCG 44 or something similar, trying desparately to catch up to the huge hydrobeast, with someone shouting "Come back here! Come back! Stop!"

Paging Larry Ellison, Larry Ellison, pick up the white courtesy phone, please.
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Old 14-08-2013, 13:14   #30
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Re: US Customs Issue

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ACLU, ROFLMAO.
Buncha bleeding heart urban liberal Democrats who just know that Yachtsmen are all evil rich rwhite epublicans not worthy of any consideration. [sic]

Boaters will never have their fourth amendment rights until and unless someone dedicates about ten years to pushing a case all the way up to the USSC, because no lower court is going to reverse a couple of hundred years of uniform errors.

OTOH, Larry Ellison is a yachtsmen, and he's got the time and money to Do Good for the sport. I'm picturing a USCG 44 or something similar, trying desparately to catch up to the huge hydrobeast, with someone shouting "Come back here! Come back! Stop!"

Paging Larry Ellison, Larry Ellison, pick up the white courtesy phone, please.
More like a bunch of right wing, overly conservative Republicans who view everyone one boats as slackards, contributing nothing to the tax base and social well being. A bunch of homeless, insane, no count druggies. Unless of course they are upstanding citizens with their boats in marinas, paying their due.
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