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Airport Seizures

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Seizure of Currency at Airports in Columbus

Agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seize money at the airport in Columbus, OH, if a passenger on an international flight is carrying more than $10,000 in cash that wasn’t declared on the FinCEN 105 form.

Even on domestic flights at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, agents with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or the Ohio HIDTA Drug Task Force, will seize large sums of cash if they suspect the money is associated with drug trafficking or money laundering.

The task force officers rarely have a warrant. Without a warrant, many of these detentions to search a person’s luggage are illegal.

Nevertheless, the task force officers might detain a traveler, ask to see their boarding pass, accusing them of carrying drugs or other types of contraband, and ask for “consent” to search. When the money if found, the traveler might leave the airport with only a receipt listing an “undisclosed amount” of U.S. Currency.

After the money is seized at the airport by federal agents or local law enforcement officers, an experienced civil asset forfeiture attorney can help you file a verified claim and challenge the taking in court.

Attorneys for Seizures of Money at the Airport in Columbus, OH

If your money was seized at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport, then contact an experienced asset forfeiture attorney in Columbus, OH, at Joslyn Law Firm. Attorney Brian Joslyn and the other attorneys in the firm help travelers challenge the seizure so that the forfeiture can be avoided and the money can be returned quickly.

An attorney at Joslyn Law Firm can help you file a verified claim immediately, even before the notice of seizure letter arrives in the mail. We can help you preserve any surveillance video of your initial detention from the Columbus Regional Airport Authority to show why the detention was illegal from its inception.

Our attorneys are familiar with the tactics used by local police officers, task force officers, and federal law enforcement officers at the airport when conducting seizures of cash.

We are especially familiar with the tactics used by agents with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and drug task force officers when seizing money and other valuable property for civil asset forfeiture proceedings. Those task force officers might be associated with any of the following agencies:

  • the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Task Force;
  • the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Drug Task Force; or
  • the Northern Ohio Law Enforcement (NOLE) Task Force.

We also represent clients after the seizure of U.S. Currency from other nearby airports including the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the James M. Cox Dayton International Airport, the Akron–Canton Airport, the Rickenbacker International Airport, and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

Call (614) 444-1900.


Bring More Than $10,000 on an International Flight

Although there is no limit to the amount of money that travelers may carry on international flights into or out of the United States, federal law [31 U.S.C. 5316] requires that travelers report currency or monetary instruments in excess of $10,000 to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport.

CBP officers are supposed to help travelers fully understand federal currency reporting requirements and offer several opportunities to accurately report all currency and monetary instruments they possess before examining a traveler’s carry-on bag or checked luggage.

Despite these requirements, CBP officers sometimes take a “gotcha approach” while detaining travelers before seizing U.S. Currency at the airport.

The consequences for violating the laws regarding the reporting of U.S. Currency are severe. If the FinCEN Form 105 is not filled out correctly, CBP can seize all of the traveler’s currency before returning only a small amount for humanitarian purposes.

An attorney at Joslyn Law Firm can help you file a verified claim to contest the seizure in a civil asset forfeiture case.


About the John Glenn Columbus International Airport

The John Glenn Columbus International Airport, formerly known as the Port Columbus International Airport, is located just east of downtown Columbus, Ohio. The airport is located off exit number nine on Interstate 670 or from Hamilton Road which is just south of Interstate 270.

The airport handles up to 250 flights per day with 34 gates including:

  • 7 gates at Concourse A;
  • 16 gates at Concourse B; and
  • 11 gates at Concourse C.

Most international flights are processed in Concourse C, which contains the airport’s customs facility.


Statistics on Seizures at the Airport in Cleveland and Northern Ohio

According to a recent study by the Institute for Justice, nearly $19,000,000 (nineteen million dollars) was forfeited after 272 different seizures at the John Glenn Columbus International Airport from 2000–2016.

Those forfeited funds taken from travelers at the airport were shared with various federal and state agencies including the Ohio High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), Ohio Attorney General’s Office, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

A recent press release published on Wednesday, January 8, 2020, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio explains how much money was collected in civil asset forfeiture actions. For fiscal year 2019, the Northern District of Ohio collected $14,622,034 in asset forfeiture actions which were deposited into the Department of Justice Assets Forfeiture Fund.

The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio serves the 40 northern counties of Ohio from offices in Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, and Youngstown.


This article was last updated on Monday, April 19, 2021.

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