to Mr. Schlözer.
Washington, April 17, 1879.
Sir: Referring to your note of the 2d of March last, and to the reply of this Department of the 12th of that month, in relation to an alleged violation of Article XII of the consular treaty with the German Empire, in the arrest of Carl Weinrebe, cook of the steamer Mosel, on a charge of smuggling, and the search of his quarters on that vessel, without notification to the consul-general of Germany at New York, I have the honor to state that a letter dated the 14th instant has been received from the Secretary of the Treasury, accompanied by a copy of a report from the collector of the port of New York, to whom the matter was referred for investigation.
It appears from that report that on or about the 3d of February last two of the customs officers at New York received information that Carl Weinrebe was in the habit of furnishing a grocery-keeper in Hoboken, N. J., with smuggled goods, and that, upon an examination of the store being made, such goods were found, whereupon complaint was made to the United States commissioner, and warrants issued for the arrest of several parties concerned therein; that upon repairing on board the Mosel the officers found Weinrebe absent therefrom, and, upon his return to the vessel, they made inquiry whether he had any smuggled goods in his possession, in reply to which he brought from his bunk a small quantity of cigars and declared that they were all he had. Upon further inquiry being made, Weinrebe informed the officers that they might examine for themselves, which they did, and the search resulted in the discovery of a quantity of snuff, tobacco, cigars, and cochineal, none of which articles were stamped, or found upon the manifest of the vessel. The officers then seized the goods above named, and procured a warrant for the arrest of Weinrebe, which was executed by the United States marshal.
It also appears that when the customs-officers went on board the Mosel they were received by one of the officers of that vessel, who accompanied them during the whole time they were there, and who not only made no protest against such examination of Weinrebe’s effects, but, on the contrary, assisted those officers while engaged in such search.
It further appears that whenever an occasion arises for making such search of a German vessel, as would fall within the treaty, it has always been the rule of the customs authorities to notify the German consulate to that effect, and that usually an acknowledgment in writing of such notice has been obtained from the imperial consul-general at New York.
In view of the facts stated in the report alluded to, the conclusion is reached:
- That the customs authorities did not go on board to search the vessel or any part thereof, but that when on board the examination of the cook’s quarters was invited by him and officers of the vessel.
- That the examination was not such a search as is contemplated in the treaty inasmuch as neither the vessel nor the owner’s interests were, or could have been prejudiced thereby.
- That, with respect to the omission to give preliminary notice to the German consul-general, the present case does not come under the provisions of the third paragraph of Article XII of the treaty, which only requires such notice in the event of depositions, or statements made by persons of the ship’s company. In the present instance, the depositions [Page 407] which led to Weinrebe’s arrest were made by parties wholly unconnected with the vessel.
In conclusion, I have to say that the German Government may rest assured that, in all cases where a search of a vessel of that nationality is to be instituted by the judicial or customs authorities of the United States, ample opportunity will be afforded to the proper consular officer of the Imperial Government to be present at such examination.
Accept, sir, a renewed assurance of my very high consideration.
Mr. Kurd von Schlözer,
&c., &c., &c.