[Mon 4 Feb, 20:03]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
Busted by Customs - (31 replies)

Just returned from two great weeks in Havana. A relaxing, safe and relatively cheap vacation. One small problem. Someone tipped off Customs and they were waiting for my friend and I. Pulled us both right over to the side and stated they knew we were in Cuba. So we said OK, we were in Cuba.

They wrote us up in their report and said we would be hearing from Uncle Sam in about two months.

Anybody out there been through this and can give me any idea what lies ahead ?


[Mon 4 Feb, 20:16]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
1. email Heritage Tours

he knows how to you get out of these jams.

Search for Heritage and you can find his email address.

The Boss

[Mon 4 Feb, 20:28]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
2. Busted

Where did you fly into? I am heading out in about 2 weeks and still researching as of where from and I can use a bit of advise.


[Mon 4 Feb, 20:37]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
3. ?

where did it happen at?


[Mon 4 Feb, 21:08]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
4. Ask Heritage?

Sure ask a Canadian Travel agent who works out of his house what to do when you get involved with the American government! HAHAHAHAHAHA (I find him VERY funny)

Get ahold of the Center for Consititional Rights in NYC . Their caseload is full but they will direct you to the right sources. Whatever you do, do not ignore the initial letter that WILL come.


[Mon 4 Feb, 21:30]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
5. here we go again

Also, the Heritage guy denied that security agencies were receiving airline passenger manifests directly from airline companies prior to passengers boarding their flights.

His self-interest has gotten the better of him. U.S. residents should research and examine the risks before going to Cuba. Don't go blind and don't be ignorant of the consequences.


[Mon 4 Feb, 23:35]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
6. hmmm

Sounds a bit weird...another troll perhaps?


[Mon 4 Feb, 23:44]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
7. Busted again and again

I first got busted in October 2000 and ever since than - three trips in 2001 and another coming up - I just write Cuba on my Customs form and dont deny or try to hide the obvious fact. Also, no matter how much pressure is put on me I do not sign any papers at the airport. I have gotten the initial furnish information letter twice and have ignored it both times - I may have even gotten it three times but it is so insignificant I cant remember - the first time they even sent the same letter twice, once by registered mail. I say bring them on, I am an American I go where I want and when I want and I will not be intimidated!


[Tue 5 Feb, 00:09]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
8. This might be a troll

Please Original Poster supply believable details or
we really can't believe your story, now can we ?


[Tue 5 Feb, 03:57]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
9. # 7 is smart

thats what i would do

who cares 876

[Tue 5 Feb, 06:06]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
10. Who cares 0000

Who cares if you think he is telling the truth or not!!!!!Why the big rush to judge?????What do you have to gain by bashing some poor guy that got screwed?????It happens all the time in the Bahamas,in miami,in Toronto,,You can"t fly same day and expect to slide by....If you put your mistrusting mouth where your mouth is just go to yahoo cuba news and go back to last summers news and you will see that from last January to May the us sent out about 50 letters with fines for people caught going to cuba..and that from May to August they sent out letters or caught over 150 people in just 2 months,,They are spending more $$$$$..I have know idea why but thats what they are doing....I just keep thinking why you bash him,,,What are your MOTIVES???????????Back off!!!!!!!!!!!(I bet you work in cuba)


[Tue 5 Feb, 06:50]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
11. Busted

I do not understand.
How can someone tip you off. Did they have any evidence?
If they have no real proof besides someone's hear say, Why would you confess? Your story seems to have some holes. Can you give more details?

Heritage Tours

[Tue 5 Feb, 08:00]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
12. Sure

Your story sounds very plausible...."someone tipped them off"....perhaps it was your travel agent -LOL

As for passenger manifests, as I mentioned, they are only given to US Immigration if there is a request for them and this does NOT apply to Cubana and LACSA which are the airlines Americans travelling to Cuba use 99% of the time. Cubana now flies to most cities from Havana.

I must confess, I have been known to work from my house from time to time. Why not? I have a seperate floor for office space, a big mahogany desk under a skylight, a more comprehensive reservations system at than ANY agency out there, colour copier/printer, laser copier, dedicated fax line, high speed connection etc... Today is -17 celcius in the morning. You're crazy if you think I'm going into the office on a day like this. (Well actually I am but later in the afternoon).

PS. I work with Carlson Wagonlit.

Who's laughing now...


[Tue 5 Feb, 08:05]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
13. His Story

His story is a lot like mine. I was busted in Charlotte NC and felt that they were waiting for me when I arrived. I understand this board has trolls and I understand that they use BITS of the truth to scare people from traveling to Cuba but every now and then people do tell the truth. What bothers me most about the Cuban-Americans’ obsession to reclaim their wealth is the assault on the truth and the proliferation of disinformation that makes conversation on this board so full of paranoia. People who normally would be relating to one another and sharing travel stories instead call each other liars. Cuban-Americans are obsessed with manipulating public perception of Cuba to suit their needs. Witness all the dengue spam. Dengue exists, but all the fear mongering on this board confuses the issue so much that if I were to see someone drop dead from dengue, I'd probably call them a troll. That's the state of human relations resulting from Cuban-Americans’ obsession with reclaiming their wealth and punishing Fidel. Disfunction. It extends from their private psychological make-up to politics, public discourse, the US legislative agenda, and yes, to your travel plans.

Now, go write your senator and tell him/her you’ve had enough and want to travel wherever your little legs can take you.


[Tue 5 Feb, 08:39]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
14. Travel

No law against going to Cuba. You "simply had everything paid for by friends-girlfriend, relatives etc."


[Tue 5 Feb, 08:46]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
15. bad advice and outdated

Heritage Tours is using outdated information. He makes his money by selling you travel products. He provides no guarantee that his information will prevent you from receiving letters or a $7500 fine.

Every year he posts the same stuff reassuring U.S. residents that they are unlikely to get caught yet every year several American travellers post and ask for advice on how to legally defend themselves. They got busted at the borders.


[Tue 5 Feb, 08:54]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
16. Let the truth be told

Number 13 sounds like he is in cuba,,,But Now the truth can be seen by all...Reuters Securities new service,,Dated tuesday(today)at 10;14 am.under the stock symbol coms,,,states that the us and other Gov.are purchasing all there, new devices to track ALL travelers crossing any BORDER,around the world and are down loading this information to a us Goverment border data site..This includes flights to and from any where in the world with special interest payed to the ones with you know who..READ IT YOURSELF....Now there can be no more BS.about this unless someone says that Reuters news service is owned by the cubes in MIAMI..Or the cubes in cuba say its all a big lie to stop americans from there freedom to travel rap...anywho read it yourself its very easy to find...Regardless if we like it or not that ass bin leftover has changed all our lives,,both those in miami and the cubes in kuba..In my case I am pissed off that they will track my butt if I go anywhere that involves a border........Happy Trails.......Are freedoms are shrinking as we speak.........


[Tue 5 Feb, 08:54]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
17. US Customs/Immigration

I recall the previous poster's experience in North Carolina and some of the responses which it got. I didn't have any doubt that he was describing a real life experience and I don't have any reason to doubt that the original poster in this thread is telling what happened to him. While I'm sure this wasn't the intent, simply posting that Customs was "tipped off" and that "they were waiting for my friend and I" doesn't tell much to someone who travels to Cuba and is concerned about the regulations and instead just raises the fear factor which is the intent of many of the anonymous "troll" postings on the issue.

When someone gets questioned or caught, my first reaction is where did this happen and where was the person coming from? Since Immigration and Customs are two completely different agencies and are part of two separate departments of government (Dept. of State and Dept. of Treasury respectively) I also wonder which one of them picked up on the Cuban visit. Normally entry documents (ie. passport or birth certificate) are presented only to Immigration who in turn pass the returning traveller on to Customs. I don't recall ever having to present my entry doucments to Customs for any reason, even when bags have been checked. Without any detail whatsoever I think the natural reaction to a story like this is either to regard it as purely random bad luck or to look at it as some evidence of unannounced, stepped up enforcement. If a reader regards it as the latter then it has the effect, whether intended or not, to deter travel.


[Tue 5 Feb, 09:37]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
18. back less than three weeks

. . .Still haven't received the letter.
We found a cut-rate charter flight from the US tundra to Cancun. From there, we took the daily Cubana flight to Jose Marti with no problems.
I really don't know how they can know you've been, unless the thugs with black helicopters have the Cancun airport staked out.
I agree with #7 in that I go where I want when I want and will neither tolerate nor abide by travel restrictions laid upon me by my own government.


[Tue 5 Feb, 09:51]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
19. A few years ago

a friend got the letter and questionaire. It came about 4 months after the trip. Don't know if they have speeded up the process.


[Tue 5 Feb, 10:16]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
20. Start a customs fine fund.

Every trip to Cuba...I taken six so far...I budget in an extra $500 for a U.S. Customs "bust" fund which I keep in a separate account.

The way things are going in the US with terrorism and security's a question of time. Will GWB will be bounced out of office...before the unilateral, inhumane blockade is lifted by the Congress? It's a gamble.

Of course, if I get caught, I will fight and drag things out without paying a fine. The fund will help finance that. But,I won't whine and moan about it. Even though I vehemently disagree with it, the law clearly states going to Cuba without a license is now illegal.

saludos, vagabundo


[Tue 5 Feb, 10:17]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)



[Tue 5 Feb, 13:22]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
22. Exactly

Once again we get one of these vague 'I was busted' posts, a ton of responses asking for details, and then nothing further. If the OP was real, he would provide details on request. Otherwise, what's the point of posting here in the first place?


[Tue 5 Feb, 14:39]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
23. The OP's purpose

The OP's purpose was asking for stories from people who have had similar experiences. It takes a lot of digging to figure that out?


[Tue 5 Feb, 17:14]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
24. Busted

For those of you questioning the OP, let me respond. I have a job to attend to. I am just now reading your responses at 8:08 on Tuesday. As a matter of fact, my job happens to be in law enforcement. 32 years worth.

Sorry that I failed to mention that it was "Toronto" where I encountered the Customs Agent's. Also know that this was my "first" trip to Cuba.

I had lunch today with another person who just returned from Cuba and he is a veteran of a dozen trips there, all through Toronto. He too was stopped and written up, but did not cooperate as we did. He said that this was the worst time he has had with Customs of all his trips and feels it may be a result of 9-11 and manifests procured from airlines. ( we flew Lasca )

ay ay jimmy

[Tue 5 Feb, 17:19]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
25. quote the american declaration of independance

to the judge. tell them that you are a proud and free american and your rights and liberties are being trampled on by some ex-cuban families who used to own properties there and are now living the high life in florida.

Proposition 1: All men are created equal.- including cubans
Proposition 2: They [all men, from proposition 1] are
endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. - your right to visit cuba
Proposition 3: Among these [man's unalienable rights,
from proposition 2] are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. - you can be so happy in cuba. it's true.
Proposition 4: To secure these rights [man's unalienable rights, from propositions 2 and 3] governments are instituted among men. - except for u.s. customs
Proposition 5: Whenever any form of government becomes
destructive of these ends [securing man's unalienable rights, propositions 2-4], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it. - wow, do you have a right to question yout freedom to visit cuba? apparently not.
thank god i am a free canadian, unlike you americans.

oh, and by the way, i hope communism dies with fidel.
it was a nice idea that just dosn't work.


[Tue 5 Feb, 17:45]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
26. Oh come on!

Somebody wants a bloody holiday in the sun in Cuba and you want them to re-fight the American Revolution? Get real. All the bluster and telling agents to fuck-off is just going to make them mad. Hopefully, most people with half a brain could find a better way of handling the situation. Always be polite. If they write you up, that's hardly the end of the world since the government still hasn't found the money to hold hearings. What a load of testosterone rubbish!


[Tue 5 Feb, 19:09]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
27. US Customs agents as trolls?

ANYTHING is possible. How surprising, the OP's claim to be in law enforcement, and then - duh! - breaking the law, such as it is. But Sargent Joe Friday outta know his story stinks, and try a different alibi next time.

I would think that jeopardizing one's job (security clearance, various loyalty oaths and routine fascist cop crap) would make an unlicensed trip to Cuba either extremely suspicious or extremely stupid. Ergo, this is almost certainly a troll, quite possibly one by "The Man."

We've seen other crazy shit, why not this. I'm offering no helpful advice to any cops, period.


[Tue 5 Feb, 19:32]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
28. Poster #27

Go Fuck Yourself !

It obviously never occured to your feeble closed mind that cops ARE concerned about such things as "rights". I have pride in the fact that I can do my part in the criminal justice system WITHOUT trampling on peoples rights, therefore don't appreciate mine being trampled on either.


[Tue 5 Feb, 21:04]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
29. CHEERS TO #28

THAT other dude sure is a loser,,,,,,eom

The Boss

[Wed 6 Feb, 06:28]
PST (Gumly Gumly -17)
30. Busted also

About 3 years ago, on my first trip to Habana me and a buddy from work took the giant leap and went there. We drove from NYC to Toronto , left the truck at the PLaza Hotel parking, went to the airport and everything went very fine. Upon return, we cleared Canadian Customs w/o any problems but about 10 miles to re-enter the U.S. territory my buddy started to freak out and forgot to tell me that he has some shit in the truck ( A LITTLE BIT OF WEED!!!) and that he didn't knew were it was, it was lost inside the truck. This happened right after the Y2K deal so the U.S. border were very close monitored. They were searching every vehicle. We got to the Border and the agent asked us about where we where-- Toronto, How many days--5, what were we doing there--wedding. I was answering every question because this prick was too F%$*ng nervouss. The agent noticed, asked us to park and to come inside the office while he kept the passports. No choice but to do as told. Inside the room my buddy was paranoid and I am very calm because I have nothing to hide, I am clean cut. There was an agent watching everything from behind a desk kind of away from us. Suddently he got up, called another guy and they spoke for a bit, then they decided to go search the tuck, the found the weed. The cabe back and asked who's truck was it?..I replied that it was his truck...they took my friend outside5 minutes later, they came back inside with handcufs on my buddy. They also found out that he was on probation and that he had well over $15,000.00 on cash on him (he works for a bookie in NYC). The locked him up and I was told to come to another office, I was held for 4 hours. A bigger ranking officer came up and questioned me and I told him that I was in Cuba for the cigars and the rum...he smiled and told me that it was fine, not to worry but that I should worry about picking my travel partners better than that. They found the cigars, the rum and the tickets...He told me that he had to confiscate the rum and the cigars and I told him to be my guess. I was let go w/o problems just a 4 hour delay. Never heard about them every since...been in Cuba another time after that, came back loaded with about 5 boxes of cigars, made all my cash back and I am planning to head out once again but not thru Toronto...