ouch! sucks for this guy

taseal

Well-Known Member
I wonder what happened in the aftermath... just ran into this while looking for something.

http://www.37000feet.com/report/625206

On jul/fri/04 approximately XA00, I called FSS to file an international flight from tamiami airport to bimmini, bahamas. At the same time I also filed the flight from bimmini to tamiami airport. At the time of filing, I requested FSS, in my remarks, to notify customs of my arrival at tamiami airport. I asked FSS to notify customs because at the time of my departure customs was closed. Before I took off from bimmini, I called customs to verify my name was in the arrival list but no one answered the phone at approximately XA05. Due to the fact that inclement WX was approaching bimmini, and confident that I had asked FSS to notify customs of my arrival, I departed bimmini to tamiami airport. Once I was airborne, I got in contact with miami radio on frequency 126.7. I activated my flight plan and verified with miami radio that customs had been notified of my arrival, and that my arrival was in the computer system of customs. When I arrived at tamiami airport, a customs officer told me that I was arriving at customs without prior notification. I proceeded to explain to the customs officer the steps I had taken to notify customs (as described above) and also explained to him that, on my way to tamiami airport, I had contacted miami radio frequency 126.7 and that they assured me that customs had been notified. The customs officer then proceeded to inform me in a very rude manner that 'it was very hard to believe what I was telling him.' I then called FSS with my cellular phone and explained the situation. FSS told me once again that my tail number was in the computer system of customs. I related this information to the customs officer and he repeated to me that it was not in the computer. At that time, FSS asked me to put the customs officer on the phone, which I did, and spoke to him. After FSS spoke to the customs officer, the officer acknowledged that my arrival was in the computer and stated that he 'did not care because the pilot had to call customs personally.' the officer then proceeded to inform me that he was going to issue me a warning. I told him that I did not think that was fair because I had followed all notification procedures appropriately. He then gave me a warning, which I signed. After having signed the warning, the officer asked me for a copy of my pilot's license and passport and went to the back office and made a copy of my documents. The officer then told me that I could leave but that I had to be back in 1 hour because his supervisor wanted to speak to me. I proceeded to take the airplane to the ramp and approximately 45 mins later they called me and I went back to customs. The supervisor asked me what had happened and I related everything as it occurred. The supervisor told me that he was not going to give a warning but that he was going to give me a $5000.00 fine instead which I would receive by mail. After that, he handed me a paper (attached) and stated that if customs was closed at the time of my departure, I could have called an after hours number. I explained to him that I was not aware that there was an after hours number and that I had never been given this number before. As it is clearly described in the paper given to me by supervisor, I followed notification requirements as stated in item #2. I strongly believe this situation could have been prevented if customs had made this information more readily available to pilots. Also, in every safety meeting I attend, I have requested an informational meeting with customs in order for them to review all the new regulations and procedures for international flts. I would greatly appreciate if these suggestions are taken into consideration in order to avoid this type of situation in the future.
 

Sidious

Well-Known Member
He said that in the intro but then said

"When I arrived at tamiami airport, a customs officer told me that I was arriving at customs without prior notification"

either way its no good for him.

Are there any ways to fight this type of thing? It sounds like he has a good record of what happened.
 

WestIndian425

Well-Known Member
I'd do some research to see if this could be handled in court, especially if FSS and ATC confirmed that US Customs was notified.

And they say the NY folks are rough! :sarcasm:
 

USMCmech

Well-Known Member
First the bad news, customs (and DOT/TSA) regulations are part of "criminal law" which means you can actually be thrown in jail if you bust them.

The good news is that under criminal law you have the right to due process, unlike adminstrative law where the FAA is judge, jury and exicutioner.


For a possible 5k fine, I'd be contacting a lawyer if for nothing else to learn about what having this violation on the record books means.
 

BobDDuck

Island Bus Driver
Tamiami Customs are probably the second worse in the entire state of Florida, right behind Fort Pierce. When I was flying people around down there I would go to Miami and clear and then head down there if that was the final destination. It used to be (and I don't know if it is still that way) the private fiefdom of the head custom's inspector down there. He pretty much got anybody he didn't like fired or reassigned and ran the place like it was his own little kingdom. That story is less then surprising.
 

BajtheJino

I'm looking at you.
The exact same thing happened to me a few years ago (minus the $5g's). Customs officials are on the same par as TSA and most only know to snoop through underwear and hassle people over prescription drugs.
 

dvtpilot

Well-Known Member
It used to be (and I don't know if it is still that way) the private fiefdom of the head custom's inspector down there. He pretty much got anybody he didn't like fired or reassigned and ran the place like it was his own little kingdom.

"For the greater good!"
:D
 

taseal

Well-Known Member
Tamiami Customs are probably the second worse in the entire state of Florida, right behind Fort Pierce. When I was flying people around down there I would go to Miami and clear and then head down there if that was the final destination. It used to be (and I don't know if it is still that way) the private fiefdom of the head custom's inspector down there. He pretty much got anybody he didn't like fired or reassigned and ran the place like it was his own little kingdom. That story is less then surprising.
ouch, i'll keep that in mind!
 

sm203900

Well-Known Member
I deal with customs on a daily basis and they can be incredibly difficult. Things to note, always get an officer's name, initials, or badge number, it is the only way to hold them responsible for anything, never accept that it was done by ATC of FSS. Secondly, the 24 hour number is 1-800-XSECTOR, this will get you to an individual that has the phone number to any customs office after hours, there is always someone on call. Finally, the minimum fine that customs can dish out is $5000, once a person receives the fine in the mail the individual can contest it, but usually the fine will stand.

Here is the pisser, you can set customs up correctly and the customs office still may forget to note your arrival, the burden of proof is on the individual not on the customs agent, again always get a customs agent''s information. Twice in the past year I have had customs agents forget to show up to clear an aircraft, glad I had their info on a recorded phone line.

Although there are some great cusoms agents, most are rude and unprofessional, especially in Florida.

For info on customs regulations check CFR Title 19 part 122
 
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