Seizures at the Fort Lauderdale Airport
What happens if you travel to the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and law enforcement officers seize or confiscate your U.S. currency (cash or money)? An attorney at Sammis Law Firm can help you fight to get the money back quickly.
When U.S. currency is seized for civil asset forfeiture, it rarely results in an arrest or prosecution. Instead, the seizure is a civil matter based on a suspicion that the money is used for the drug trade or in a money-laundering scheme.
Act quickly to find an attorney experienced in immediately filing a claim for court action or early judicial intervention.
When money is seized at the airport, the person seizing the money is usually a law enforcement officer with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office or federal agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Sometimes a detective at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office will seize the cash but then the action will be adopted by the DEA or CBP for forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 881.
If you received a notice of seizure from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, then the forfeiture will proceed under state law and you should hire an attorney to demand an “Adversarial Preliminary Hearing” within 15 days of the seizure.
Attorneys for Seizures at the Fort Lauderdale Airport (FFL)
If agents with DEA, HSI, CBP, or the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) Narcotics Interdiction Task Force, seized your money at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FFL), contact the attorneys at Sammis Law Firm.
Our attorneys fight seizures involving an allegation that the money was being used for the drug trade, as drug proceeds, or to facilitate a drug transaction.
The allegations of bulk cash smuggling might also allege that the cash was intended for money laundering.
Find out why we demand the surveillance video from the airport within fourteen (14) days of the seizure. The airports have short retention policies for those videos, so you must act quickly.
The video from the airport can be used to show the detention was illegal from the inception, the detention was unlawfully prolonged, or that the traveler was coerced into making a statement.
Although you are not required to make a statement, many people start talking. The authorities will ask where the money came from and the reason for the trip.
Call the federal asset forfeiture attorneys at Sammis Law Firm if your money was seized at any airport in Florida.
Forfeiture Actions under Title 18 U.S.C. § 983
Any of the following agencies might be involved in the seizure of large sums of money at the airport:
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
- Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
Additionally, customs agents with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Homeland Security Investigations manage the U.S. borders at the official ports of entry, including at Florida’s international airports.
After the seizure by an agent with DEA, CBP, or HSI, an attorney can help you file a claim for court action (sometimes called “early judicial intervention).
Under Title 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(3)(A), that claim then triggers a 90-day deadline during which an Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) has to either file a complaint for forfeiture or return the money.
If the AUSA doesn’t return the money or file the complaint for forfeiture, then your attorney can file a complaint in federal court to force the return of the money.
The claim for early judicial intervention can be filed immediately after the seizure (even the next day). You do NOT have to wait 60 days for the notice to arrive in the mail. In other words, your attorney can help you file the claim quickly, which then triggers the 90-day deadline for court action.
In federal actions, filing the claim for court action is the ONLY way to challenge the forfeiture and shows that the claimant owns the money seized. The DEA’s Asset Forfeiture Section of the Office of Operations Management will then be forced to refer the case to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida.
Contact us to find out why remission or mitigation administrative procedures rarely work. The administrative procedures for remission or mitigation prohibit you from arguing the seizure was illegal.
Using administrative procedures might also cause you to waive your right to demand court action (early judicial intervention).
Forfeiture Hold Property Receipt from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office
For smaller amounts of money, a detective with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office might seize the cash and issue a receipt “property receipt” for a “forfeiture hold.”
The receipt might list “U.S. Currency” and reference a “hand count” for a specified amount or simply say “undetermined amount.” The money might then be put in a “clear self-seal” bag and taken to the bank.
The receipt contains an acknowledgment section that provides:
I hereby acknowledge the above list represents all the property taken from my possession. If my property is taken and listed as Prisoner Property or for Safekeeping, then I must contact the Broward Sheriff’s Office Evidence Unit within sixty (60) days. If I fail to do so, I ackonwledge that these items will be considered abandoned and disposed of pursuant to Florida Statute Chapter 705. Evidence Unit can be contacted at 954-765-4351.
Notice of Forfeiture Seizure from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office
The officer with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office might also provide you with a Notice of Seizure that provides:
Sheriff’s Office Broward County
In-Person Hand Delivery
RE: Seizure of $_______ US Currency and all other property
BSO Case No. ________
Date of Seizure:_______
Notice of Seizure
NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to Sec. 932.701 et seq., Fla. Stat. (2018) that the property described above was seized for forfeiture by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office on the date and under the case number stated. A forfeiture action is pending, and all potential claimants who have a legal interest in the subject property may request an adversarial preliminary hearing It is not necessary to request an adversarial preliminary hearing in order to make a claim to or otherwise contest the forfeiture of the seized property.
If you choose not to request an adversarial preliminary hearing, you will still be notified of all future court dates concerning the above-referenced property and have the opportunity to contest the forfeiture. If you desire an adversarial preliminary hearing, pursuant to Sec. 932.703(3)(a), your request must be in writing and sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, received within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the notice, or your right to an adversarial preliminary hearing will be waived and the case will proceed to trial. Address all requests to:
Legal Dept. – Forfeiture Section
Broward County Sheriff’s Office
2601 W. Broward Blvd.
An attorney at Sammis Law Firm can help you challenge money taken at the airport by detectives with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office or federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Read more about seizures for forfeiture by the Broward Sheriff’s Office and the best defenses to these actions.
If law enforcement officers seized your property in a civil asset forfeiture proceeding in Broward County, call us to find out how to regain the property.
This article was last updated on Wednesday, March 22, 2023.