Yoink! TSA Publicizes Man Traveling with Bag of Cash. Then Feds Seize It.

Now he may have to prove the money is not involved with any crime to get it back.


Really, they were saving him from mean comments about his ugly luggage.

Happy Independence Day weekend, America! What better example of what "freedom" has come to mean in the United States than a situation where an airline passenger, after being prodded and searched by the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), has his property photographed and publicized online by the TSA and then seized.

Was said property a gun or a bomb? Was he arrested and charged with a crime? No and no. It was cash. The man was carrying thousands of dollars in a bag through the airport at Richmond, Virginia. According to a TSA spokesperson, the "unknown bulk" of the bag's contents triggered alerts, so they searched and found the money. Then somebody decided they should photograph this man's personal property (by which I mean $75,000 or so) and post it on Twitter. To say that this is a violation of the man's privacy would have to assume that the TSA has any grasp of what privacy even is.

There were some outraged responses from some people on Twitter at this flippant exposure by the TSA. But that's just the insult. The injury is that a federal agency then seized the man's cash. He now has to prove that the money is his and that it has no connection to any illegal activities, or the government may just keep it. The Washington Post, noting the seizure, points to TSA blog post from 2009 providing the agency's justification for its behavior:

TSA officers routinely come across evidence of criminal activity at the airport checkpoint. Examples include evidence of illegal drug trafficking, money laundering, and violations of currency reporting requirements prior to international trips.

When presented with a passenger carrying a large sum of money through the screening checkpoint, the TSA officer will frequently engage in dialog with the passenger to determine whether a referral to law-enforcement authorities is warranted.

The TSA officer may consider all circumstances in making the assessment, including the behavior and credibility of the passenger. Thus, a failure to be forthcoming may inform a TSA officer's decision to call law-enforcement authorities.

So even though it's perfectly legal to carry huge sums of cash onto a plane, if you refuse to answer TSA agents' questions about the money, or they just don't believe you, or they just gin up whatever reason they like, they can summon law enforcement to seize it and then force you to grapple with the federal government's incredibly complicated asset forfeiture process just to try to get it back (check out a flowchart here).

This is what freedom looks like these days. As a reminder, the TSA seems to be able to sniff out cash, which is not why it exists, but not bombs and actual terrorist threats, which is why it exists. Sing us out, Remy!

NEXT: No Active Shooter at Navy Yard Today After All

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  1. I want my hat tip from yesterday, bitches.

    1. HA! Refer to your H&R handbook…. it is right in there – “no hat tip for you!”

      1. Because FYTW.

    2. Good luck, Johnny. GOOD FUCKING LUCK.

    3. It’s been civilly forfeited.

    4. I’ve had enough of your hat speech.

    5. Once upon a time, Balko didn’t hat tip me for something I sent him and he used. I’m still sore about it. If I ever buy his book, I’ll buy it secondhand. That’ll show him.

  2. I hope everyone of the people that were involved in this seizure, on the government end, have all of their teeth fall out, except for one…so they can have a toothache!

    /angry old man on park bench

    1. I hear that if you tie one end of a string to your tooth and the other end to a woodchipper…

    2. “hey, can you start this apple for me?”

  3. I guess if this ever came to the Supremes, seizure would fall under the “necessary and proper” clause and the “FYTW” clause right there in the 9th amendment.

    1. They will reinterpret the 5th Amendment to say ” shall be deprived of property without due process”, because that would be what the writers would have intended given the current state of affairs and the necessity of enabling the proper functioning of the government.

  4. “[…]So even though it’s perfectly legal to carry huge sums of cash onto a plane, if you refuse to answer TSA agents’ questions about the money, or they just don’t believe you, or they just gin up whatever reason they like, they can summon law enforcement to seize it[…]”

    In which case, it is NOT legal to carry cash onto a plane; they have the law behind them to seize it.

  5. How the fuck do you prove a negative? THIS IS THE FUCKING LEGAL STANDARD?!?1

    1. Dammit, Monty!

      Do you understand what happens if they allow people to travel with large sums of money? The drug trade will continue!

      Do you have any white daughters? Do you want them seduced by colored jazz musicians in a speakeasy? Do you want to have a mongrel half-breed as a grandchild?

      We do what needs to be done!

      1. Do you want to have a mongrel half-breed as a grandchild?

        I know! He could grow up to be [shudder] President of the United States.

        1. Winning.

  6. Enumerated rights, unlimited government. It’s right there in the Constitution if you know how to read it the right way.

    1. You don’t have the right to fly in a plane cus’ you can like, totally walk.

  7. An observation by Joseph Sobran on the current state of our liberties:

    By today’s standards King George III was a very mild tyrant indeed. He taxed his American colonists at a rate of only pennies per annum. His actual impact on their personal lives was trivial. He had arbitrary power over them in law and in principle but in fact it was seldom exercised. If you compare his rule with that of today’s U.S. Government you have to wonder why we celebrate our independence?.”

    1. It’s an excuse for a circus.

      1. The 9th-Circus needs no excuse.

    2. Only because given the state of individual rights and taxation in Britain, we’re (slightly) better off still?

      1. But they’re allowed to show boobs on broadcast TV. Ladies’ boobs, even.

        1. a real Lady would not allow her personal assets to be publically displayed in such a crass exhibition. Indecourours, to be sure. No, those mammary glands pertain to a different class of female, as the males who are working in concert to display them are a different class of male.

  8. The perfect way to nullify the Fourth Amendment. That’s why they’re trying to expand the TSA to bus and train travel.

  9. Having too much cash is a crime now.

    1. “You didn’t build that!”

  10. It’s unfair to refer to these government agents as highwaymen. Some of them are highway*women.*

    1. A TSA agent is like Dick Turpin, but without a similarly satisfactory conclusion to his career.

  11. So say this guy is a member of crime outfit, in his mind you just stole 75 thousand dollars from him. That would piss off anybody let alone someone who deals in violence for a living.

    1. Hah! It turns out that American criminals, even the cartel members who get arrested in America, are smart enough to understand that using violence against the American government isn’t going to be profitable.

      It is against the Mexican government, however. This is (IMO) the primary reason that Northern Mexico is a dangerous place while directly across the border, not ten miles away, is still fairly safe.

      Mexican law enforcement, though having a far freer hand than law enforcement on the US side, is no where near as well funded or manned.

      You shoot a drug cop in Mexico and, eventually, they might figure out who you are and shoot you.

      You shoot a drug cop in the US and you and your buddies will be in cuffs within a week and your boss will have his operation torn apart.

      1. Nah, not against the American government, per se, but I don’t think the Feds are going to investigate that hard if the guy that tweeted the pic ended up in a garbage skip a year from now. There are levels of aristocracy, after all…

  12. All your monies are belong to us!

  13. Really shpuld not have worn such a skimpy dress in that neighborhood.

    Seriously though, as a practical matter, carrying that type of cash where you are going to be searched by an leo is a terrible risk. It should not be this way, but that is what the country has come to and people need to act accordingly for their own interest.

    1. Personally, I would never have carried that much cash around *anywhere*. Go to the bank, get a draft made out to you.

      Single sheet of paper, stick it in a notebook, cash it on the other end.

      1. And have the bank report your deposit to the feds (as required by law), who will then seize it from the bank on exactly the same basis as they seized it in person from this guy.

        1. I guess UPS isn’t trustworthy.

  14. Wait… the government is legislating via blog post now? Can we expect SCOTUS to tweet their shootdown of this outrageous overreach next summer?

  15. Now he may have to prove the money is not involved with any crime to get it back.

    There’s no “may” about it. He will have to prove that no one penny of it was connected in any way to any legal violation whatsoever. That’s the only way to get it back.

    I suppose the government could essentially gift it back to him, to avoid bad publicity. But, right now today, that money belongs to the government, and he has no right to whatsoever until a court orders it returned.

    1. Re comment from R. C. Dean, Jesus H.Christ.

  16. Note as well that on the day they tweeted out the photo, someone replied and questioned whether it was seized and the PR flack denied that it was. “Oh no! We just saw an anomalous bulk in the x-ray and thought it was something interesting to share!” Which isn’t true, because we now know that it was seized shortly thereafter.

    So they are Clintonian liars, too (technically, TSA didn’t seize it themselves).

    But hell, we already knew this.

    Woodchipper etc etc.

    1. Is Blogdad Bob still writing for TSA? I really want to see his fat ass dragged in front of a Congressional committee.

    2. Re the TSA, LYING SCUMBAGS!!!

    3. Re Wood chippers,mentioned in a couple of posts, why would you want to befoul a piece of perhaps expensive mechanical equipment.

  17. Parking a woodchipper in front of TSA HQ sounds like a very good idea.

    1. Would you stencil “FEET FIRST” on it?

  18. The game is called Civil Asset Forfeiture, otherwise known as Theft Under Color of Law. One can put however much lipstick on a pig one might wish to. It remains a pig.

  19. After the successful two year fight over $187K in NV, it may have gotten a bit easier.

  20. The film clip is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. As for the TSA personnel involved in this scam, these people need to have their asses prosecuted,convicted, fired and jailed, with no consideration whatever.That strikes me as the proper manner in which to treat this Gestapo-like mob. By the way, the FBI (Fan Belt Inspectors, Fumbling, Bumbling Incompetents) seemingly involved in this travesty, do not look real good either. Oh, by the way, consider this dear reader, re the film clip. There might be more truth than humor in it.

    I will conclude with the proverbial “dumb question”,if I may. Whatever happened to this country?? I’d pose the question to”government”, but I find characteristically dumb answers, if any answers are offered, tiresome.

  21. TSA should be abolished and the thieving bastards should be punished to the fullest possible extent.

  22. Re Civil Asset Forfeiture, otherwise Theft Under Color of Law, one of these days, legitimate law enforcement is going to come knocking on the door of John Q. Public, urgently seeking John’s aid and assistance. What they might well find is that Nobody Is Home, or more succinctly, The Door Slammed in Their Faces. Obviously, such as this would be a sad situation but legitimate law enforcement, should not be surprised at the reception they receive, so pissed off has John Q. become over the travesties of justice that are the Civil Asset Forfeiture Racket. Admittedly, the above described situation, at the moment, is a figment of my imagination, for fortunately it has not come to pass. How much longer public patience, public largess might last, I cannot foretell, nor can anyone else. What it boils down to is the following. Legitimate Law Enforcement is riding down a path it should have never entered upon. It should not be surprised when and if the public’s patience has been worn out, leaving the overheated boots of Law Enforcement on the thinnest of ice, which would be a sad situation indeed, worse yet, a situation brought on by the very worst elements of Law Enforcement. It speaks for itself, or in my badly fractured Latin, Res Ipsa Loquitur.

  23. “My money, yes or no.”



    Can we please start this?

  24. Of whom should we be most fearful: International terrorists or The United States Federal Government? With which are we most likely to have an undesirable experience that results in harm to our selves or to our lifelihoods…….And is there a definable difference in their potential — and willingness — for doing us harm?

  25. Welcome to the anti-rightist, war-on-drugs-fueled police state. Actually, this type of seizure at airports has been going on for decades now, long before the TSA. I’m surprised that this person wasn’t aware of the risk of carrying large amounts of cash in the airport. If he needed the cash at his destination he could have packed it in a box and sent it via one of several methods by overnight express. But, of course, if it really was cash garnered from honest, peaceful drug sales, so what? No crime would have been committed. Well, I define crime like Lysander Spooner defined crime: the intentional harm to others. (Everything else the government calls a crime falls under the category of “sin.”) Most drug transactions are between consenting adults and are both honest (as in no robbery, burglary, or fraud) and peaceful (as in no use of force or violence or even coercion). And if that’s not our inalienable rights then we have no rights. Therefore, welcome to the anti-rightist, war-on-drugs-fueled police state. Get use to it or do something.

  26. If you’re looked at as being a criminal/terrorist for having/owning lots of dollars, doesn’t it kind of make you wonder who/what produces them?

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