Florida: Police Seizing Cash from People Who Smell Like Weed Before They Fly to California

Here’s the introduction to the story. It’d be interesting to see if this is happening in other states too?


Vice write………On June 17, Curtis Simmons was in the JetBlue kiosk area of Fort Lauderdale International Airport’s Terminal 3 when he was approached by two unarmed, plainclothes detectives. The 32-year-old from Elkridge, Maryland, had just purchased a ticket for a 7:15 p.m. non-stop flight to Los Angeles.

“I had missed my flight the day before and I had to rebook with a different airline,” Simmons said in an interview. “As soon as I printed out my boarding pass, they surrounded me.”

According to a civil forfeiture complaint filed in Florida’s Broward County Circuit Court, Simmons was stopped by deputies with a narcotics and money laundering task force led by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. As they peppered Simmons with questions, the complaint states, he granted the cops permission to search his backpack and his carry-on suitcase. It was then that police allegedly “smelled a strong odor of cannabis” emanating from Simmons and the clothing inside his suitcase. The JetBlue traveler said he had smoked weed earlier, but wasn’t under the influence, and that although he didn’t have a medical card, he used cannabis to treat work-related pain, according to the complaint.

Cops didn’t turn up any weed, but they did find $6,290 in cash in Simmons’s pocket and another $5,000 in a pair of jeans in his carry-on, according to the complaint. A canine would confirm the presence of “narcotics” on the money and, after asking Simmons “direct and simple” questions, cops said, they determined he was “exhibiting signs of deception and untruthfulness.” The complaint claims Simmons lied about when he purchased his ticket, misled about how much money he had on him, and that he became visibly nervous, began to tremble, and continuously put his head down in an effort to avoid eye contact. Basically, that he started acting like a stoned teenager.

When police finished their impromptu interrogation, they told Simmons the $11,290 was being seized for civil forfeiture, the process by which law-enforcement agencies can take cash, homes and other property from people suspected of being involved in illegal activity without charging them with a crime. It’s a practice critics have long claimed police departments use to pad their own budgets and generally lends itself to abuse, one the Supreme Court sought to rein in earlier this year.

Read the full report: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qvgvvm/cops-seizing-weed-cash-flying-fort-lauderdale-to-california-lax

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