1005 N. Marion St.
Tampa, FL 33602
813.250.0500
Sammis Law Firm

Seizures of Cash at Airports in Florida

Was your money, cash, currency, or other property seized at the airport in Florida or another state? If you were the victim of “jetway robbery” by federal agents who seized your money at the airport, then hire attorney Leslie Sammis at Sammis Law Firm.

We can start the process to get your U.S. Currency back as quickly as possible. Read this guide on how to get seized money back from the airport. Find out why our attorneys ALWAYS recommend taking the following steps:

  • hire an attorney to immediately contest the legality of the seizure by demanding early judicial intervention and a referral to the U.S. Attorney to review whether the seizure was illegal or lacking in probable cause and for possible court action in U.S. District Court (instead of filing a less effective administrative petition for remission, mitigation, or offer in compromise); and
  • make sure your attorney immediately files a demand to preserve any video surveillance evidence from the airport authorities before it can be destroyed; and
  • make sure your attorney obtains a court order to obtain a copy of any surveillance video from the airport authorities.

We work directly with clients for most of our cases in Florida. We even take cases outside of Florida by teaming up with local attorneys in that jurisdiction to fight the case. If you are an attorney that wants to co-counsel with us, call us to discuss the best way to fight for the return of the money.

After your money is seized, the federal agency that took the cash will send you notice of your rights in a letter which can take weeks or months to arrive. But you don’t have to wait for that letter to hire attorney Leslie Sammis.

Instead, your attorney can file a verified claim with the agency or even file a demand for the return of the property in the U.S. District Court immediately. Hiring an attorney to file the claim on the same day as the seizure (or shortly thereafter) will help you speed up the process.

Although you have the option to petition for administrative remission, administrative mitigation, or make an offer in compromise, those administrative options typically DO NOT work. Many people lose all of their money because they waive their rights to court intervention by asking for remission or mitigation (and then regret that decision when their claim is eventually denied with a form letter).

If you wait for the notice of seizure letter to arrive in the mail, be advised that it will be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the address provided by the petitioner at the time of seizure which is usually listed on the receipt.

Read the notice of seizure letter carefully. Pay particular attention to the last day to file a claim. If the claim is not received by the agency by this date (in their hands), then the claim will be returned because it was filed after the expiration of the period to file a claim.

Attorney Leslie Sammis can make sure the verified judicial claim (contesting the legality of the seizure through referral to the U.S. Attorney’s Office) is filed in a proper and timely manner. For this reason, you must act quickly!

If federal agents with the DEA, ICE, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), seized your cash at the airport, we can help you fight to get all of the money back.

Instead of just letting them keep your money, you should retain an attorney who can fight the case aggressively. To get the money back, you should quickly hire an experienced attorney to demand the quick return of the money or that a forfeiture action is filed in the U.S. District Court.

Attorneys for Airport U.S. Currency Seizures in Tampa, FL

Want to know how to get seized money back from the airport? At Sammis Law Firm, attorney Leslie Sammis is experienced fighting civil asset forfeiture actions and fighting for the speedy return of cash or other property seized at the airport for forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 881.

We can take your case on a contingency basis so that you do not have to pay us any attorney fees or costs unless we recover the money or other property. With offices in downtown Tampa in Hillsborough County, we are familiar with the best ways to fight seizures of cash at the following airports:

We also represent clients for incidents at the reliever airports including all of the reliever airports in the Tampa Bay Area including:

  • Albert Whitted Airport (SPG SPG KSPG) in St. Petersburg
  • Tampa Executive Airport (was Vandenberg Airport) (VDF KVDF); and
  • Peter O. Knight Airport  (TPF TPF KTPF) in Tampa, FL.

We are often contacted by attorneys outside of Florida, and we work as a consultant or co-counsel in those cases as well. If you are an attorney and would like to discuss a case, give us a call.

We also represent clients if their cash or other property is seized for forfeiture at any bus station or Amtrak train station in Florida. If federal agents with DEA, ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or Homeland Security Investigations, seized your cash at the airport then we can help.

If they take your money, immediately contact an attorney who can file an immediate demand for court action and “early judicial intervention.”

Demanding that either the government returns your money or that the U.S. Attorney’s Office files the forfeiture action in the U.S. District Court is often the fastest way to get your money back.

When it comes to airport cash seizures by agents with DEA, ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or Homeland Security, a Civil Forfeiture Defense Attorney in Tampa, FL, can help you fight to get your money back.

We can help you challenge the legality of the seizure and the validity of any forfeiture action.

Call 813-250-0500.


Our Case Results in Airport Seizure Cases

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm have represented clients in numerous airport seizure cases throughout Florida and other parts of the county. Our recent victories in jetway robbery cases include:

  • $16,563 seized by an agent with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at Tampa International Airport and $16,563 was returned within 4 months in 2020 (after CBP alleged that our client failed to file a FinCEN Form 105 before an international flight);
  • $159,950 plus interest returned by Homeland Security after a cash seizure at Tampa International Airport within 6 months in 2020 (after we alleged that some of the money had gone missing but everything deposited into the account by the agent was returned);
  • $63,490.00 seized by Homeland Security at the Orlando International Airport, but the entire amount was returned within five months (after a complaint for forfeiture was filed by the Assistant United States Attorney and dismissed in the U.S. District Court) in 2020;
  • $45,001 seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Cleveland, Ohio, who returned $45,001 in 2020;
  • $52,620 seized by DEA at the Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport but the full amount was returned six (6) months in 2019;
  • $30,000 seized in 2019 at the Tampa International Airport and all $30,000 was returned;
  • $30,000.00 seized at an airport in San Francisco but $29,375.89 was returned;
  • $13,260 seized at the Orlando International Airport and $13,260 returned within six (6) months;
  • $13,227 seized by a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) at the Tampa International Airport and only $11,892 returned (after we alleged that some of the money had been stolen and was never found by HSI).

How to Get Your Cash Back After an Airport Seizure

In each of the past three years, federal agents with CBP have seized more than $60 million in cash from international travelers, mostly at airports. These takings have become known as the “jetway robbery.”

If you are traveling within the United States, there is no legal limit to the amount of currency that you may carry at any given time. But if you carry a large amount of currency, then state or federal agents might try and seize it during a traffic stop, at a port of entry, bus station, train station, or at the airport.

Seizures at the airport in Florida are particularly common during the screening process at a security checkpoint before boarding.

Instruments used by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) during the screening process can detect the amount of currency in your carry-on or checked luggage. Even handheld detectors get signals from the strips in dollar bills. When the strips are stacked together, the signal is even stronger.

If you have more than $10,000.00 in cash, even for a domestic flight in or out of a Florida airport, it might result in federal agents detaining you and seizing any money in your possession.

When agents with the TSA discovered large amounts of bundled currency in your carry-on bag as you go through the screening process at the security checkpoint, the information is passed onto law enforcement officers who might detain before your flight.

Although you are not required to make any statement, many people start talking soon after the detention begins. When the federal agency encounters a story that doesn’t make sense, they might just seize the money.

Because many people don’t immediately contest the seizure, federal agents have figured out an easy way to separate large amounts of money from suspected drug smugglers, money laundering, or bulk cash smuggling suspects.

After the seizure of money from a person at the airport, the agents will often write you a receipt for an “undisclosed amount of U.S. Currency” before depositing the cash into an “Asset Forfeiture Fund” managed by the Department of Justice.

You are then provided with an opportunity to contest the seizure of the referenced currency in the United States District Court.

How do you get seized money back after a seizure at the airport? Although you have the option to petition for remission or mitigation, those administrative options don’t work.

Instead, talk to an attorney about “filing a claim” for court action (sometimes called “early judicial intervention”). We can explain how to get seized money back from airport.

Call us at 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.


Indicators of Drug Trafficking or Bulk Cash Smuggling

Federal agents at the airport are looking for the following indicators of drug trafficking or bulk cash smuggling which might involve:

  • traveling with a one-way ticket;
  • buying that ticket at the counter or within 72 hours of the departure;
  • flying to a state where marijuana is legal for recreational purposes such as Colorado or California;
  • using cash to buy the plane ticket;
  • using another individual to purchase the plant ticket;
  • not having any lodging arrangements;
  • artfully concealing U.S. currency in carry-on luggage;
  • providing inconsistent statements regarding the currency;
  • having no verifiable source of income;
  • possessed evidence of structuring activity;
  • having a criminal record; and/or
  • being a male between the age of 18 and 39 years old.

When cash is seized, the agents are often looking for a young man traveling to California or Colorado who recently purchased a one-way airline ticket.

The agents assume that the person is coming into a state where marijuana is legal to purchase a large amount of marijuana and then drive it back to another state in a rental vehicle where the marijuana can be sold on the black market for a large profit.


Obtaining Surveillance Video from the Tampa International Airport

The authorities at the Tampa International Airport make it next to impossible to obtain video surveillance evidence. For this reason, you need an attorney to quickly send the appropriate letters to identify and preserve the evidence.

You also need an attorney to file a litigate a demand for a court order for good cause shown to get the surveillance video before it is destroyed.

The Authority retains surveillance video for 30 days per the Florida Department of State retention schedule. The retention policy provides:

GS1-SL ITEM # GS1-SL – RECORDS SERIES TITLE DESCRIPTION RETENTION

302 SURVEILLANCE RECORDINGS –

This record series consists of surveillance recordings created to monitor activities occurring inside and/or outside of public buildings and/or on public property (including in public vehicles such as school buses and municipal buses, and in public roadways such as intersections monitored by red light cameras).

Since these recordings may play an integral part in prosecution or disciplinary actions, agencies are responsible for ensuring that internal management policies are in place establishing criteria for which images should be retained for further investigation. 30 days.

You can find the entire schedule on the Florida Department of State website.

If you make a request for video surveillance, the authorities at the Tampa International Airport and Central Records will claim that the video is both a component of and reveals part of Tampa International Airport’s security system or surveillance techniques and thus is confidential and exempt from public disclosure under Florida Statute Sections 119.071(2)(d), 119.071(3)(a), 281.301 and/or 331.22.

If the video also involves the checkpoint area, it contains sensitive security information controlled by 49 CFR Parts 15 and 1520 or other pertinent state or federal statutes. As such and in accordance with those statutes, the Authority will only disclose the requested video to you upon a showing of good cause before a court of competent jurisdiction.

Until you obtain such a court order, you should file the appropriate demand to preserve the video that has been retained until that time. (Note also, if applicable, active criminal investigative information is also exempt under Section 119.071(2).)

Read more about seizures of money at the airport in Orlando, FL, and the best way to preserve the video at that airport. If you are wondering how to get the seized money back from the airport, then contact us to find out the importance of obtaining the surveillance video from the airport authorities.


The Typical Airport Seizure of Currency Case

In these cases, the federal agents suspect that the suspect is flying to a state to pick up a trafficking amount of marijuana or other drugs and then rent a vehicle to drive the drugs back to Florida. As a result, many of these cases involve a one-way airline ticket to Colorado or California.

Many of these seizures of currency cases involve an alleged “consensual encounter” at the airport between the petitioner and law enforcement agents. The agent might approach the petitioner while wearing plain clothes.

The agent might tell the petitioner that he is not under arrest and was free to continue with his travel. The report will allege that the petitioner:

  • agreed to speak with the agent and complied with the agent’s request to produce identification;
  • was engaged in conversation;
  • explained where he was traveling from and to;
  • advised that the tickets were purchased with cash or purchased by another person;
  • didn’t have lodging arrangements;
  • gave free and voluntary consent to search his luggage;
  • had large stack of currency wrapped with rubber bands and consisting of all $100 bill denomination;
  • gave inconsistent statements about where the money came from.

Before terminating the encounter, the federal agents will then tell the petitioner that the currency found in his luggage was suspected to be related to controlled substances and would be detained pending further investigation.

In many of these cases, a canine trained to alert to the presence of controlled substances alerted in a positive manner to the currency.

A count of the currency seized from traveler’s luggage by a financial institution determined that the traveler was in possession of a large amount of currency. The referenced currency is then seized and forfeited pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881.


Choosing Between an Administrative or Judicial Forfeiture

You have the opportunity to challenge the forfeiture. The federal agents hope you take no action or choose an administrative forfeiture. The better course of action is challenging the taking in a judicial forfeiture by demanding that an attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office review the case.

That review requires the AUSA to either immediately return the property or file a forfeiture action in the appropriate U.S. District Court within 90 days of when you made the demand.

Going along with an administrative forfeiture is a bad idea because they are handled in-house by the same agency that took the money. These challenges do not take place in a courtroom. No judge will see the case.

You get none of the protections contained in the rules of evidence or the rules of procedure that normally accompany a lawsuit. The agents prefer the administrative forfeiture challenges for all of these reasons.

On the other hand, judicial forfeiture requires the filing of a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court where the rules of evidence and the rules of procedure apply. More importantly, requesting a court action might trigger the State Attorney’s Office to decline to file a forfeiture action which is the quickest way to get all of the money back.


The Notice of Seizure after Money is Seized at the Airport by DEA or ICE Agents

If DEA or ICE agents took your money at the airport, you are entitled to due process of law which means a fair hearing to contest the legality of the taking of your cash or other property.

If your cash or property is taken, the agents are required to issue you a receipt and then a notice of seizure. The notice of seizure must be issued to any interested person to notify them of the seizure and give them a chance to file a claim.

An interested party can include anyone who has a legal right to claim the seized asset including the owner of the property or a lienholder.

Under 18 U.S.C. 983(a)(1)(A), the government has 60 days from the date of the seizure of your cash at the airport to send you a Notice of Seizure. When the property is seized by a local or state law enforcement agency, the deadline can be extended to 90 days.

If the notice of seizure is not provided within the applicable timeline, then the government must immediately return the property. If the government actually files a Civil Forfeiture lawsuit before the 60 or 90-day deadline expires then the Administrative Forfeiture process ends and the Judicial Forfeiture process begins.

If the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (“CBP”) seized the cash, then they will issue a “Custody Receipt for Seized Property and Evidence” (Form 6051S). The custody receipt includes an “FPF” number that allows the case to be tracked by the Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures office of Customs (“FP&F”) for the airport where the cash seizure occurred.
If the CBP agent had you sign a DHS Form 4607 entitled “Notice of Abandonment of Assent to Forfeiture of Prohibited or Seized Merchandise,” then they might not send you a notice at all. The DHS Form 4607 cites 19 CFR Part 162. Even if you were forced to sign the HDS Form 4607, you can still make a verified claim for the property and fight your case.
Your verified claim then invalidates your signature on the “notice of abandonment or assent to forfeiture of seized property.”

What is the Deadline to File a Claim for Immediate Judicial Intervention?

If the government sends you a notice of seizure within the 60 or 90-day deadline, then any party with an interest in the property has 35 days to file a claim. The 35-day deadline begins from the notice was mailed.

If the required claim is not RECEIVED within that 35 day period, then the government gets to keep all of the money under an administrative forfeiture action.

If the proper claim is filed within the 35 day period, then the government only has ninety (90) days thereafter to do the following:

  • return the cash or property to the person making the claim;
  • filing a civil forfeiture lawsuit in the district court; or
  • obtain a criminal indictment showing that the property is subject to forfeiture.

Keep in mind that a civil forfeiture does not require a criminal conviction, instead, the government must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the property is subject to forfeiture.


Defenses to Civil Asset Forfeiture Actions at the Airport

Your attorney can help you assert defenses in order to convince the attorneys working for the government that it would be better to return the money or property to you without further delay. Those defenses that can be raised by your civil asset forfeiture defense attorney include:

  • an unlawful interrogation;
  • an innocent owner defense;
  • an excessive fine defense:
  • illegal search or seizure;
  • lack of nexus defense;
  • statute of limitations;
  • showing a legitimate source or use;
  • insufficient evidence;
  • conflict in the evidence; or
  • unreliable K-9 evidence.

We can help you negotiate the return of your money or other property. The amount of money the government is willing to return will depend on the strength or weakness of your case.

When you hire a Civil Forfeiture Defense Attorney, make sure they are able to fight the case to the end. The best settlements usually occur early in the case or right before an adversarial preliminary hearing or at trial.


Problems with Filing a Petition for Remission or Mitigation

The main problem with trying to file a petition for remission or mitigation is that the case will then be decided by a Senior Attorney (including Carmen R. Pomares) with the Asset Forfeiture Section of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the U.S. Department of Justice.

If you file a petition for remission or mitigation regarding the seizure of money or other property, the DEA might simply deny the petition because it fails to meet the requirements for remission or mitigation. 28 C.F.R. Part 9 (2017).

Federal regulations explicitly prohibit remission of a forfeiture unless the petitioner establishes the following:

  1. A valid, good faith, and legally cognizable interest in the seized property as an owner or lienholder; and
  2. Qualification as an “innocent owner” within the meaning of the applicable civil forfeiture statute.

You should understand that the remission or mitigation of a forfeiture is neither a right nor a privilege, but an act of grace. In re the Matter of Sixty Seven Thousand Four Hundred Seventy Dollars ($67,467.00) v. United States, 901 F.2d 1540, 1543 (11th Cir. 1990); Laconia Savings Bank v. United States of America, 116 F. Supp. 2d 248 (2000).

A Petition for Remission and Mitigation “does not serve to contest the forfeiture, but rather is a request for executive pardon of the property based upon the petitioner’s innocence or, for a wrongdoer, on a plea of leniency.” United States v. Vega, 72 F.3d 507, 514 (7th Cir. 1995).

A decision with respect to remission or mitigation of a forfeiture is made solely at the discretion of the Attorney General. See 21 U.S.C. § 881 (d) (2017); 19 U.S.C. § 1618 (2017).

The Attorney General and the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have delegated the authority to determine the merits of such petitions to the Asset Forfeiture Section of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the U.S. Department of Justice. 28 C.F.R. §§0.100 (b), 0.104; 28 C.F.R. §9.1 (b).

The Senior Attorney with the Asset Forfeiture Section of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the U.S. Department of Justice acts as the Ruling Official and considers whether the evidence is sufficient for forfeiture.

The attorney with the DEA’s Asset Forfeiture Section starts with a presumption that a valid forfeiture occurred. 28 C.P.R. § 9.5 (a) (4). See Juncaj v. United States, 894 F.Supp. 318, 320 (E. D. Mich. 1995); Reinoso v. Drug Enforcement Administration, No. 93-CIV-1516 (KTD), 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18054.


The Petition for Remission or Mitigation Terminates Any Change for Judicial Review

The decision of Carmen R. Pomares or another Senior Attorney with the DEA’s Asset Forfeiture Section on a petition for remission or mitigation is not thereafter subject to judicial review on its merits.

In United States v. One 1987 Jeep Wrangler Automobile, 972 F.2d 472,479 (2d Cir. 1992), the court found that the “overwhelming weight of authority supports the position that a federal court lacks jurisdiction to review the merits of administrative forfeiture decisions once the administrative process has begun.” United States v. Hewett, (S.D.N.Y. 2003) 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9812; Walker v. DEA, (S.D.N.Y. 2003) 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14958.

In other words, once the administrative process has begun, a federal district court generally does not have subject matter jurisdiction to review the merits of an administrative forfeiture decision. Dawson v. The Drug Enforcement Administration, 927 F. Supp. 748 (1996).


Reasons the Petition for Remission is Denied

The petitioner has the burden of establishing the basis for granting a petition for remission or mitigation of forfeited property. See Regulations Governing the Remission or Mitigation of Civil and Criminal Forfeiture, 28 C.P.R. § 9.5 (a) (3). See 19 U.S.C. § 1618 (The Attorney General may return the property if he finds mitigating circumstances to justify the remission.).

At the time of seizure, there was sufficient probable cause to believe the currency represents proceeds from the illicit sale of controlled substances and/or was used or intended to be used to facilitate illicit controlled substance transactions in violation of21 U.S.C. § 881 (a) (6).

The petition is often found to be devoid of any type of documentation to establish that the referenced currency was derived from legitimate sources. Pursuant to 28 C.F.R. §§ 9.3 (c)(iv) and 9.5 (a)(3), a petitioner bears the burden of establishing the basis for granting the petition. Failure to provide the required information may be cause for the denial of the petition.

For these reasons, the attorney with the DEA will often find that the Petitioner has not provided sufficient documentation to support a legitimate source for the referenced currency.

Examples of documentation that would show sufficient documentation to support a legitimate source for the reference currency would include employment, tax, bank, or other documentation that would establish the petitioner had legitimate sources of income.


Whether Extenuating Circumstances Warrant Mitigation of the Forfeiture

Even when the petition does not meet the minimum conditions for remission, as a matter of discretion, the attorney for the DEA’s Asset Forfeiture Section will re-examined the petition to determine whether extenuating circumstances exist that warrant mitigation of the forfeiture. 28 C.F.R. § 9.5 (b).

In many of these cases, the attorney for the Asset Forfeiture Section of the DEA will conclude that the petitioner has failed to adequately demonstrate that any mitigating factors exist to justify any relief from the forfeiture.


Eighth Amendment Prohibitions Against Excessive Punishments

The attorney for the DEA will also review the facts of this case to determine if the forfeiture would be in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive punishments, as discussed in Austin v. United States, 113 S. Ct. 2801 (1993).

The DEA attorney will determine that the administrative forfeiture was entirely proportional to the offense, considering the substantial connection between the forfeited property and the offense.

In addition, the correct forum in which to challenge the constitutionality of the forfeiture is Federal District Court. Since the Petitioner failed to contest this forfeiture judicially, this option is no longer open. United States v. Giraldo, 45 F.3d 509 (1st Cir. 1995); Caraballo v. Drug Enforcement Administration, 62 Fed. Appx. 362, 363 (2003).


Reconsideration of the DEA’s Decision to Deny Remission or Mitigation

The Petitioner may request reconsideration of any decision. 28 C.F.R. § 9.3 (j). Only one request for reconsideration shall be considered. Any request for reconsideration must be based on information or evidence not previously considered.

This new information or evidence must be material to the basis for this denial or must present a basis clearly demonstrating that the denial is erroneous. Requests must be postmarked or received by this office within 10 days of your receipt of the letter informing you of the decision.

Further correspondence with this office must include the DEA Case and Asset ID numbers referenced above and be addressed to: Carmen R. Pomares or the Forfeiture Counsel assigned to the case with the Asset Forfeiture Section, Drug Enforcement Administration, HQs Response, 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152.


Seizure of Unreported Currency at the Airport

If your money was seized by officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection then you are not alone. On a typical day in 2017, CBP officers around the country seized $265,205 in undeclared or illicit currency. Many of these cases involved the seizure of unreported currency at airports.

Travelers may carry as much currency as they wish into and out of the United States and it is not taxed at the port of entry. However, federal law requires that travelers who are carrying more than $10,000 in currency or monetary instruments must report it to a CBP officer and complete a U.S. Treasury Department financial form.

To find unreported exportations of bulk U.S. currency, CBP performs outbound inspections to find the proceeds from alleged illicit activity or currency that funds transnational criminal organizations.

If your money was seized by federal agents for the failure to report currency, by agents with Homeland Security Investigations, then contact an experienced attorney at Sammis Law Firm.


What Happens to the Money Seized at the Tampa International Airport

Under provisions of the U.S. Department of Treasury Guide to Equitable Sharing for Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, state forfeiture funds shared with local law enforcement agencies must be expended for law enforcement purposes.

Likewise, the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act (FCFA) authorizes law enforcement agencies to use the proceeds collected under the FCFA for authorized law enforcement purposes as well.


Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement for Airport Seizures

Is a warrant needed before the authorities can seize money at the airport for civil asset forfeiture? Yes, unless an exception found in 18 U.S. Code § 981(b)(2) applies.

18 U.S. Code § 981(b)(2) provides:

Seizures pursuant to this section shall be made pursuant to a warrant obtained in the same manner as provided for a search warrant under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, except that a seizure may be made without a warrant if—
(A) a complaint for forfeiture has been filed in the United States district court and the court issued an arrest warrant in rem pursuant to the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims;
(B) there is probable cause to believe that the property is subject to forfeiture and—
(i) the seizure is made pursuant to a lawful arrest or search; or
(ii) another exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement would apply; or
(C) the property was lawfully seized by a State or local law enforcement agency and transferred to a Federal agency.


Additional Resources

DEA Asset Forfeiture Section – The Asset Forfeiture Section provides legal advice on a variety of issues related to criminal, civil, and administrative asset forfeiture. Attorneys in the asset forfeiture section of the Office of Chief Counsel in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) review pre-seizure probable cause determinations for legal sufficiency and to ensure that due process is provided to all parties with a legal interest in the seized property. Attorneys provide legal advice and support to DEA management and field offices worldwide. These attorneys also rule on petitions for remission or mitigation of forfeiture. Attorneys in the asset forfeiture section represent DEA agents in confidential informant lawsuits, reviewing relevant sections of DEA and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) policy, and draft legal memoranda analyzing issues inherent in asset forfeiture matters. The attorney also responds to daily inquiries regarding proper processing and disposition of seized and forfeited assets and prepare litigation reports supporting probable cause determinations for judicial forfeiture cases, drafts declarations to support litigation positions. The attorney works with DEA and other law enforcement personnel to support the U.S. Attorney’s Offices with judicial forfeiture cases, assist DEA personnel working with other Federal agencies and communicating with private attorneys, strengthen drug-related investigations and pre-seizure planning, serve as a liaison between DEA Agents and federal prosecutors, and provides legal instruction to domestic and international asset forfeiture personnel.

Field Office of the CBP in Tampa, FL – Visit the website of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to find the contact information for the Field Office in Tampa, FL, at 1624 East Seventh Avenue, Suite 300, in Tampa, FL 33605. The phone number is (813) 712-6100. The field office is opened from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. The press office is managed by Michael Silva.

Forfeiture Funds for Tampa International Airport Police Department – At a recent board meeting of the Tampa International Airport Aviation Authority held on February 6, 2020, at 9:00 a.m., in Boardroom Level 3 at Tampa International Airport, the board authorized the expenditure of state forfeiture funds. Under Authority Standard Procedure 5440.14, expenditures from State forfeiture funds can be made only after approval from Legal Affairs and the Authority Board. At a board meeting, it was discussed that Legal Affairs reviewed the request and agreed with the expenditures. In 2017, the board authorized the expenditure of State forfeiture funds to be used by the Tampa International Airport Police Department (TIAPD) in an amount not-to-exceed $5,000 for the purchase of critical incident management training. The item was included in the State Forfeiture Funds Budget. In 2020, the board authorized the expenditure of Federal forfeiture funds to be used by the Tampa International Airport Police Department for a maximum purchase authorization of $19,460.80 for the purchase of police carrier vests.

Jetway Robbery? Homeland Security and Cash Seizures at Airport – Visit the website of the Institute for Justice (IJ) to find an article explaining why Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents seizure money, cash, and U.S. Currency from unsuspecting travelers on both domestic and international flights. The study uses data from the Treasury Department’s forfeiture database, the Seized Assets and Case Tracking System  (SEACATS) from 2000 through 2016.


Finding an Attorney for Airport Currency Seizure in Florida

In the typical case in which currency is seized at the airport, a person is traveling through an international airport in Florida upon arrival from a foreign country. The person is in possession of a large amount of currency. Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) decide to detain and question the person about the U.S. currency.

The CBP customs agents will then seized the money and issue the person a “Custody Receipt for Seized Property and Evidence.” A few weeks later, the person will receive a letter entitled “CAFRA Notice of Seizure and Information to Claimants Form AF.”

The letter provides notice of the date, place, and legal reason for the seizure of the currency held in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5316 and 5317. The notice also provides a list of ways to challenge or contest the seizure.

For seizures by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at the airports in central Florida, including at the airport in Tampa or Orlando, the initial “Notice of Seizure and Information to Claimants CAFRA Form” will be sent via certified mail return receipt requested from Robert M. Del Toro, Fines, Penalties and Forfeiture Officer.

After we are retained in a case in which currency was seized at the airport, we first request a copy of any surveillance video from the airport. We explain to the client why we should demand immediate judicial action instead of filing a Petition for Remission or Mitigation of Forfeiture.

If the money is not immediately returned or a forfeiture action is not filed in U.S. District Court within the time allowed by law, then we filed a lawsuit in federal court to demand the return of the property.

If you were the victim of “Jetway Robbery” after your currency was seized at the airport or a port of entry, then contact an experienced civil asset forfeiture attorney at Sammis Law Firm with offices in downtown Tampa, FL.

We can help you understand how to fight the seizure of your currency at a port of entry, bus station, train station, through the mail, or at an airport. We also represent clients who are arrested at the airport for carrying a concealed weapon or other contraband. Read more about attorneys fighting a DEA seizure and forfeiture case.

Call 813-250-0500.


This article was last updated on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.

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