Seizure of conveyances
(1) any vessel, vehicle, or aircraft; or
(2) the owner or operator, or the master, pilot, conductor, driver, or other person in charge of a vessel, vehicle, or aircraft;
is subject to a penalty for violation of the customs laws, the conveyance involved shall be held for the payment of such penalty and may be seized and forfeited and sold in accordance with the customs laws. The proceeds of sale, if any, in excess of the assessed penalty and expenses of seizing, maintaining, and selling the property shall be held for the account of any interested party.
No conveyance used by any person as a common carrier in the transaction of business as a common carrier is subject to seizure and forfeiture under the customs laws for violations relating to merchandise contained—
(A) on the person;
(B) in baggage belonging to and accompanying a passenger being lawfully transported on such conveyance; or
(C) in the cargo of the conveyance if the cargo is listed on the manifest and marks, numbers, weights and quantities of the outer packages or containers agree with the manifest;
unless the owner or operator, or the master, pilot, conductor, driver or other person in charge participated in, or had knowledge of, the violation, or was grossly negligent in preventing or discovering the violation.
Prohibited merchandise on conveyance
If any merchandise the importation of which is prohibited is found to be, or to have been—
on board a conveyance used as a common carrier in the transaction of business as a common carrier in one or more packages or containers—
(A) that are not manifested (or not shown on bills of lading or airway bills); or
(B) whose marks, numbers, weight or quantities disagree with the manifest (or with the bills of lading or airway bills); or
(2) concealed in or on such a conveyance, but not in the cargo;
the conveyance may be seized, and after investigation, forfeited unless it is established that neither the owner or operator, master, pilot, nor any other employee responsible for maintaining and insuring the accuracy of the cargo manifest knew, or by the exercise of the highest degree of care and diligence could have known, that such merchandise was on board.
For purposes of this section—
The term “owner or operator” includes—
(A) a lessee or person operating a conveyance under a rental agreement or charter party; and
(B) the officers and directors of a corporation;
(C) station managers and similar supervisory ground personnel employed by airlines;
(D) one or more partners of a partnership;
(E) representatives of the owner or operator in charge of the passenger or cargo operations at a particular location; and
(F) and other persons with similar responsibilities.
(2) The term “master” and similar terms relating to the person in charge of a conveyance includes the purser or other person on the conveyance who is responsible for maintaining records relating to the cargo transported in the conveyance.
Costs and expenses of seizure
When a common carrier has been seized in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) and it is subsequently determined that a violation of such subsection occurred but that the vessel will be released, the conveyance is liable for the costs and expenses of the seizure and detention.
(June 17, 1930, ch. 497, title IV, § 594, 46 Stat. 751; Pub. L. 99–570, title III, § 3121, Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207–86; Pub. L. 100–690, title VI, § 6076(b), Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4324.)