DEA Agents Allegedly Conducting Illegal Bag Searches at Atlanta Airport

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(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task-force officers may have been conducting illegal bag searches at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, NBC 12 reported.

Specifically, the DEA has allegedly been using plainclothes agents to search passengers’ bags at the terminal gates shortly after they scan their boarding passes.

Film director Tabari Sturdivant was one of the alleged victims of such an arbitrary search.

“He just approached me, and he asked me for my ID,” Sturdivant told NBC.

“He didn’t state who he was,” Sturdivant continued. “He just asked me for ID, and I thought he was a Delta agent. He had airport credentials on, and so I gave it to him immediately.”

The DEA officials reportedly then asked him an insulting series of questions: “Are you high? Have you smoked? Do you have any drugs in this bag? Do you have any money?”

While agents conducting the searches do not often find drugs, they do often confiscate money from people, and the agency makes it extraordinarily difficult for citizens to recover their cash.

According to the report, millions of dollars have been confiscated at the Atlanta airport alone, most of which has gone unrecovered by airplane passengers.

If passengers do not file a claim within 45 days, they automatically surrender the confiscated money.

Dan Alban, an attorney with the Institute for Justice, a nonpartisan civil liberties watchdog, claimed that the system was set up to reward those who confiscate cash.

“Task force officers, unlike actual DEA agents, are employees of some local or state law enforcement agencies,” Alban said, noting that this legal status allows them to “share” in the profits of the program.

“The fact that they are a TFO means they are part of a task force they are cross-sworn as DEA agents,” he added. “By virtue of that, they’re participating in the federal equitable sharing program, and a portion of the money that they seize goes back to their agency.”

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