As Ed Driscoll reports below, when TSA flack Lisa Farbstein tweeted a photo of the contents of a passenger’s luggage–$75,000 in cash–with a snarky comment, the gratuitous invasion of privacy generated quite a bit of public backlash. But the story gets worse. The TSA took a photo, but other federal agents took the money.
The Puppy Blender then refers to the following:
The photo, from the Richmond airport, shows a passenger’s luggage containing $75,000 in cash. Farbstein asks, “Is this how you’d transport it?” Most people would not, but there is nothing illegal about simply checking a bag containing $75,000, or carrying it with you on the plane. Passengers aren’t under any obligation to report large sums of cash unless they’re traveling internationally, though the TSA recommends that passengers consider asking for a private screening.
In this case, the cash was seized by a federal agency, most likely the Drug Enforcement Administration, according to Richmond airport spokesman Troy Bell. “I don’t believe the person was issued a summons or a citation,” he said. “The traveler was allowed to continue on his way.”
If true, that would make this incident just the latest case of civil asset forfeiture at the nation’s major transportation hubs. In recent months several high-profile stories have surfaced of passengers who had large sums of cash seized by the DEA, including a young man at an Amtrak stop, a college student at the Cincinnati airport, and a nail salon owner in New York. While the DEA took the cash in these cases under suspicion of its involvement in drug trafficking, no drug charges been filed in any of the cases.