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Forfeiture for Violations of the Travel Act

If money is seized at the airport for forfeiture, the Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) might file a complaint for forfeiture. The complaint for forfeiture might be based on a cause of action under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C) which relates to violations of the travel act.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(l)(C), any property which constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to an offense constituting a “specified unlawful activity,” or a conspiracy to commit such offense, is subject to forfeiture to the United States.

Under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(c)(7)(A) and 1961(1), interstate travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952 is a specified unlawful activity.

Civil asset forfeiture attorneys can help you fight seizures involving interstate or foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises (“ITAR” or the “Travel Act”) (§ 1952) with the goal of getting the seized property back quickly.

Attorneys for Forfeitures for Violations of the Travel Act

If your U.S. Currency was seized at the airport, then contact an experienced civil asset forfeiture attorney. We can help you file a verified claim immediately after the seizure, even before the notice of seizure arrives in the mail 60 days later. The verified claim is sent to the federal agency that seized the property or is handling the administrative proceeding such as U.S. Custom and Border Protection, DEA, or the FBI.

We can also help you file an answer to any complaint for forfeiture filed by the Assistant United States Attorney, including a complaint under 18 U.S.C. 1952 regarding the use of interstate commerce to facilitate unlawful activity (Travel Act) (property traceable to proceeds).

Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.


What Does the Travel Act Prohibit?

The Travel Act (“ITAR”) under § 1952 prohibits interstate or foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises. For example, 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a) prohibits individuals from using “any facility in interstate or foreign commerce,” with the intent to:

  • distribute the proceeds of any unlawful activity;
  • promote, manage, establish, carry on, or facilitate the promotion, management, establishment, or carrying on, of any unlawful activity; or
  • attempt to perform the conduct described above.

18 U.S.C. § 1952(b) specifically includes within the definition of “unlawful activity” “any business enterprise involving . . . narcotics or controlled substances (as defined in section 102(6) of the Controlled Substances Act).”

In these cases, the complaint for forfeiture alleges that the Defendant Property constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952. For this reason, the complaint will allege that the property is therefore subject to forfeiture pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(l)(C).

In forfeiture cases, the United States will assert that the Defendant Property is forfeitable to the United States under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) and 18 U.S.C. §981(a)(1)(C). Pursuant to the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and Asset Forfeiture Actions, Rule G(3)(b)(ii), the complaint will request that the Clerk of the Court issue a Summons and Warrant of Arrest in Rem as to the Defendant Property.


Typical Allegations when Money is Seized for Forfeiture at the Airport

In cases involving the seizure of U.S. Currency at the airport before a domestic flight, the complaint might allege:

  • The Defendant Property was seized at the airport from a traveler suspected of being a drug courier;
  • The seized funds are currently deposited into an account owned by the National Finance Center;
  • The federal agency that seized the money has the task of investigating the use of the airport and airlines that service the airport to perpetrate or facilitate drug trafficking crimes including the transportation of illegal narcotics and the proceeds of such narcotics (sometimes called the “Interdiction Group”);
  • Those trafficking in illegal narcotics often hire couriers to transport narcotics or the proceeds from the sale of narcotics;
  • Traffickers or their couriers will use air travel to accomplish their illegal purpose;
  • Transporting cash obtained through narcotic sales via airplane allows drug traffickers to keep their ill-gotten gains “off the books” and outside the banking system, which they know is regularly monitored by
    banking and governmental authorities;
  • Investigators with the Interdiction Group are specially trained and learn by experience how to identify those who are using the federal aviation system to facilitate narcotics trafficking.
  • The federal agents involved in the seizure know that California is a source state for marijuana and that narcotic traffickers and couriers of narcotic traffickers regularly transport cash proceeds obtained from narcotic sales back to that state;
  • The federal agents approached the traveler while dressed in plain clothes, with no visible weapons, and only badges displayed;
  • The federal agents asked and obtained free and voluntary consent to search the traveler’s carry-on luggage or checked luggage;
  • Those involved in drug trafficking frequently package their drug proceeds in rubber-banded bundles;
  • the federal agent observed a drug (K9) canine give a positive alert for the presence of an odor of narcotics on or about the U.S. currency found or the luggage in which the money was found.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, December 28, 2021.

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