DEA Spying on US Travelers to Seize Cash

civil asset forfeiture, DEA, seizing money, cash
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The DEA has been snooping around in the travel records of the United States population in an effort to seize millions of dollars of suspected drug money—without ever bringing anyone up on charges—says a new report.

An investigation conducted by the folks at USA Today recently uncovered a racket being operated by the DEA that has allowed the agency to generate mega bucks by simply shaking down travelers that they believe could have some involvement with the black market drug trade. The report, which was published last week, suggests the DEA has been using a sophisticated network of “travel industry informants” to pinpoint suspicious people in airports and bus stations that they can harass for the sole purpose of seizing money. It goes on to say that the victims of this scam are people that may have purchased a one-way fare or used cash to pay for a ticket.

USA Today found almost 90 cases from over the past few years where the Department of Justice has gone to federal court in order to permanently seize the cash—sometimes reaching more than $50,000—discovered in the suitcases and pockets of travelers that agents believed had a “suspicious itinerary.” This scheme has generated more than $209 million for the DEA over the course of the past 10 years, the report says.

“They count on this as part of the budget,” said Louis Weiss, a former supervisor of the DEA’s operation in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “Basically, you’ve got to feed the monster.”

But this is not necessarily breaking news.

Last year, an investigation into the strategies of the DEA by the Office of the Inspector General found that agents were commonly positioned in a number of transportation facilities across the country, including bus stations and train depots, to profile travelers that were suspected of having a connection to illegal drugs. This tactic is said to be responsible for bringing in $163 million between 2009 and 2013.

Although having a “suspicious itinerary” is not enough probable cause for a search, the Inspector General’s report found that agents were using this information as a means get the person in for questioning, which would often cause the traveler to unwittingly give agents permission to root through their belongings without a proper search warrant.

This questionable procedure, however, has not brought about a reduction in hardened criminals running around the country. In fact, most of these cash seizures are never associated with a person getting arrested or brought up on charges. This is because controversial policies known as federal asset forfeiture laws allow police agencies to take possession of cash and other property, as long as the items are suspected of being generated by or linked to criminal activity. And drug agents do not have any trouble establishing some kind of correlation.

In one case, DEA agents were able to seize $25,000 from a woman in Detroit because a dope-sniffing hound alerted on her money. In another case, agents seized $36,000 from a man at the Phoenix airport simply because he had a minor marijuana offense on his record. Yet, none of these people were ever dragged into the criminal justice system.

“Of the 87 cases USA Today identified in which the DEA seized cash after flagging a suspicious itinerary, only two resulted in the alleged courier being charged with a crime,” the report reads.

Both current and former DEA agents told USA Today that most of the cash seizures comes from people with minor drug-related blemishes on their record. And in most cases, there is not any evidence that a crime has been committed. But the overall goal is not prosecution—it is to get the money.

“We want the cash,” said George Hood, a former supervisor for the DEA’s drug unit at O’Hare in Chicago. “Good agents chase cash.”

13 comments
  1. The question is what can we as citizens do to make our corrupt dea and nsa pay and quit harassing people.

    Shouldnt we be the ones with power/

    dont we elect them and as long as you allow this sytem to have the power nothing will ever change.

    This should be national news. People should be aware they are being targeted.

    I dont worry about this bs cause I have nothing to hide but those out there who live in fear shouldnt be made to.

    who are they hurting?

    Its fucking sad that the people we bestow with power lie manipulate andd abuse that power.

    They dont care about protecting us.

    only about money power and corruption and you as a citizen, if you were ever to unite and come together could inflict change.

    but we dont because we think we have no effect on the gov when they only have power because we allow them to.

  2. Seriously, FUCK the DEA. I’m so sick of them it’s not even funny. Innocent people are losing money just so they can fill there pockets full of cash due to their greed and corruption. It’s almost never about protecting the people, they only care about cash and politics over science. I give my two big middle fingers to the DEA shitheads!

  3. Here’s an extract from “Notes on Democracy” by Henry Louis Mencken, written in 1926, during Federal Alcohol Prohibition (1919-1933)

    The Prohibitionists, when they foisted their brummagem cure-all upon the country under cover of the war hysteria, gave out that their advocacy of it was based upon a Christian yearning to abate drunkenness, and so abolish crime, poverty and disease. They preached a [crime, poverty and disease free] millennium, and no doubt convinced hundreds of thousands of naive and sentimental persons, not themselves Puritans, nor even democrats.

    That millennium, as everyone knows, has failed to come in. Not only are crime, poverty and disease undiminished, but drunkenness itself, if the police statistics are to be believed, has greatly increased. The land rocks with the scandal. Prohibition has made the use of alcohol devilish and even fashionable, and so vastly augmented the number of users. The young of both sexes, mainly innocent of the cup under license, now take to it almost unanimously.

    In brief, Prohibition has not only failed to work the benefits that its proponents promised in 1917; it has brought in so many new evils that even the mob has turned against it. But do the Prohibitionists admit the fact frankly, and repudiate their original nonsense? They do not. On the contrary, they keep on demanding more and worse enforcement statutes — that is to say, more and worse devices for harassing and persecuting their opponents.

    The more obvious the failure becomes, the more shamelessly they exhibit their genuine motives. In plain words, what moves them is the psychological aberration called sadism. They lust to inflict inconvenience, discomfort, and whenever possible, disgrace upon the persons they hate, which is to say: upon everyone who is free from their barbarous theological superstitions, and is having a better time in the world than they are.

    They cannot stop the use of alcohol, nor even appreciably diminish it, but they can badger and annoy everyone who seeks to use it decently, and they can fill the jails with men taken for purely artificial offences, and they can get satisfaction thereby for the Puritan yearning to browbeat and injure, to torture and terrorize, to punish and humiliate all who show any sign of being happy. And all this they can do with a safe line of policemen and judges in front of them; always they can do it without personal risk.
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