CHICAGO — Federal drug agents have seized tens of millions of dollars in suspect cash from Chicago's airports since 2006, a published report says.
In all, some $30.2 million has been taken from suitcases in 404 seizures, USA Today reported Thursday.
Chicago's take is second highest in the nation, behind only Los Angeles, where $52.1 million was seized in 1,624 cases.
In most cases, the seizures do not result in charges, USA Today says. Agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration look for suspicious travel arrangements to target the effort, which takes money authorities believe is linked to drug trafficking.
Most of the money is passed on to local police departments that assist the DEA, the paper reported.
Exactly how agents are able to profile suspicious travelers is not clear but, says USA Today, the DEA has "cultivated a wide network" of informants in the travel industry to help identify suspicious travelers.
USA Today posts a federal court document detailing how in June 2009 agents discovered $44,010 in a suitcase aboard an Amtrak train at Chicago's Union Station believed to have been part of a drug deal. The black rollaway bag contained 98 $100 bills, 165 $50 bills, and 1,298 $20 bills.
On Thursday, the DEA posted recent cash seizures, including more than $100,000 from one person in Chicago in June.
The practice has been criticized by some who fear that privacy and due process rights are being violated.
In April, the Sun-Times profiled a suburban man who has been fighting the DEA for the $101,000 the agency seized at Union Station in 2002. That money, taken from the man's friend, was to buy a restaurant, he said.