Man Has Life Savings Taken at Airport Because His Luggage Smelled

a group of luggage on a conveyor belt

Law enforcement at the Cincinnati Airport seized Charles Clarke’s life savings, $11,000, earlier this year because his checked luggage smelled like marijuana. According to the Vox article, Clarke admitted to smoking marijuana on the way to the airport when questioned, but had no drugs in his possession and wasn’t charged with a crime.

He’s not getting his money back though. The $11,000 intended for college tuition and expenses can be kept by the police.

law enforcement officers can seize someone’s property without proving the person was guilty of a crime; they just need probable cause to believe the assets are being used as part of criminal activity, typically drug trafficking.”

Though carrying large amounts of cash probably wasn’t the best means of transporting one’s savings (though it might have been the only one available to Clarke) and smoking pot is illegal, the punishment seems excessive, and disturbing for travelers in general.

What if your Uber or cab driver was transporting something illegal in the trunk before he handled your luggage? What if you’re on your way back from a funeral with your grandmother’s jewelry?

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  1. Marijuana is completely decriminalized in the state of Ohio. Because Cincinnati’s airport is inexplicably in the backwater state of Kentucky, this kind of nonsense happens. If you live in Ohio and smoke marijuana, never go over the river.

    1. Doug, marijuana is still very much illegal in Ohio. Don’t believe everything your dealer is telling you… Just because people are petitioning to have it legalized does not mean it is legalized.

      1. Mike,
        De-criminalized and illegal are two different things. Is speeding illegal? Yes. Is speeding a criminal offense? No- it is an infraction, punishable by a fine, like marijuana use in many states like Ohio.

  2. Yeah… Land of the free my @ss. Sorry but the concept that your property can be confiscated because someone “believes” it “might” be used in a criminal manner is bone chilling.

  3. It’s called Civil Asset Forfeiture and it’s one of the biggest scams perpetuated on the American public by the government. It goes against everything our criminal justice system is supposed to represent, not least of all “innocent until proven guilty”. It’s simply a backdoor way for local municipalities to increase revenue, which is why they’re fighting new and proposed legislation that would finally address this nonsense.
    Speak to your legislators and tell them to do something about this practice – you think it may never happen to you, but when it does…

  4. Civil Asset Forfeiture, yet another example that one has more to fear from the police (acting as Sheriff of Nottingham’s in this case) than they do from an actual criminal. Additionally one is allowed to fight back against criminal aggression, unless of course said criminal is a member of the State ‘Punitive Priesthood’, in which case one could find themselves summarily executed, and the aggressors swiftly exonerated.

  5. Umm..why was he transporting his “life savings” in cash via the airport? You have an admitted drug user with an incredibly suspicious amount of cash. There is no way that transporting in person was the “only way” he could transfer that money-not in this day and age, with checks, ATMS, electronic banking, Western Union, etc.

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