When frequently passing through airports, US citizens and tourists entering the United States may have been randomly selected for a thorough search of their luggage and possessions. But as it turns out, over US$200m has been seized from tourists at airports and train stations since the early 2000s. Despite taking money from 5,2000 travellers, only two of them were actual suspects in a criminal investigation.
Federal Agents Target Cash-Carrying Citizens
Interestingly enough, US federal agents obtained the US$209m from these 5,200 travellers due to tip-offs from paid informants. While there is nothing unusual about that particular strategy, it is worrisome to see the number of “false positives”. If only two people are official suspects in criminal cases, there was no real reason to target the other 5198 people.
Particularly the DEA is building a reputation for randomly profiling people at airports and Amtrak train stations. One of the “red flags” for these federal agents is when users complete one-way travels to California, or even for paying a ticket with cash. Furthermore, people who checked luggage were scrutinised as well.
What is even more worrisome is how hardly any of these “potential suspects” are detained formally. The vast majority were never arrested or charged either, but only their money has been taken into custody. This is a rather strange business practice to say the least and one that warrants further investigation.
As one would come to expect, most people would never see their money back either. Some randomly targeted “suspects” appealed this practice in court, but very few cases were ever handled by a judge. The few lucky ones who did, though, managed to get some of their money back as there was no clear evidence to justify the actions by the federal agents.
Some people are even claiming these actions are a way for the DEA to extend their budget. Picking out random people and having them give up their money to benefit a government agency should not be tolerated by any means. Mainly people who seem to be carrying a lot of cash are picked out, regardless of their reasons for doing so.
All of this goes to show consumers should never carry much cash on them. If the federal agents would pick somebody out but they don’t have cash on them, there is nothing to seize. Payment cards and alternative currencies, such as Bitcoin, are a much safer method of transporting money, regardless of the amount involved.
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