DEA Agents Accused of Seizing People’s Money

Photo by Marco López on Unsplash

( – Concerns are mounting over the actions of undercover drug task force members who operate within Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The task force, comprising agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Clayton County Police, is accused of indiscriminately targeting travelers for unwarranted searches. The news came to light through a local media report from Atlanta News First, which has even published videos showcasing these officers conducting searches.

Travelers, often unaware they are interacting with law enforcement, have reported unsettling experiences. Tabari Sturdivant, a film director, narrated how he was asked for identification by someone he assumed was a Delta agent. Sturdivant only realized later he had been speaking to a DEA agent, who inquired about drugs and cash as he rifled through Sturdivant’s luggage. Although no drugs were found, the task force often seizes significant amounts of cash from travelers, even when no arrest follows.

Another individual, musician Brian Moore, had his life upended when he was questioned by agents who confiscated $8,500 he was carrying to finance his first music video. Although he was never formally charged, Moore spent a year in legal tussles, incurring $15,000 in legal fees, nearly twice the amount seized, before finally retrieving his money.

The process for reclaiming confiscated funds is both laborious and costly. Travelers may also be pressured to produce bank statements on their phones to justify possession of large sums of money. The task force’s actions have generated outrage and led to legal battles, including a racial profiling lawsuit filed by comedians Eric André and Clayton English.

Additionally, actor Jean Elie recorded two officers searching him on his flight’s jet bridge, remarking on the disparity in who gets singled out for searches. The implication is clear: not only are the task force’s actions creating an atmosphere of mistrust and unease, but they are also raising serious questions about the fair and equitable application of law enforcement tactics.

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