Feds to keep $138,121 in cash seized at MSP because it smelled like pot

TrainWreckegePot.jpg
You don't actually have to have ganja on you to get in pot-related trouble at MSP, it turns out.
A default judgment filed in Minnesota's U.S. District Court on May 28 by Judge Michael Davis allows the federal government to keep a whole bunch of cash originally seized at MSP Airport merely because it smelled like pot.

But the feds don't keep to keep the $138,121 because it smelled like pot. Instead, the legal rationale hinges on the fact that "Robert L. Casteel and all unknown persons and entities... have failed to file a verified claim to the defendant currency," the judgement in United States of America v. $138,121.00 in U.S. Currency says.

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In other words, since nobody came forward to claim the cash after a notice of forfeiture was posted on forfeiture.gov in January (the deadline to come forward was in late February), the government gets to keep it.

We touched base MSP spokesman Patrick Hogan in hopes of learning more about the January 2013 incident during which the cash was seized, but he couldn't immediately supply details. However, a Star Tribune blog post notes that the seizure stemmed from a tip federal agents received about a California man (aka, Casteel) with a bunch of alleged drug money hopping a flight from Minneapolis to Arizona.

A drug-sniffing dog led authorities to two pieces of luggage Casteel had checked. No drugs were found, but money inside the bags smelled like sticky icky.

Casteel claimed the money was from his bingo business, but Homeland Security investigators allege it's really the proceeds from distributing high-end marijuana in Minnesota, and later linked the cash to a grow-op in Oakland, California.

According to the Strib, it doesn't appear any criminal charges were ever filed against Casteel in connection with the the grow-op, yet the feds are keeping his cash anyway. You know, finders, keepers.

To read Davis's legalese-laden judgment for yourself, click to page two.



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64 comments
Larry Andrews
Larry Andrews

So easy to blame the big bad government for everything.

Mary Moon
Mary Moon

Who keeps their cash with the smelly plant anyway? I used to work in retail. Once had a customer who paid cash for a purchase where the money clearly smelled strong. Lol

Tim Thorn
Tim Thorn

Good going Dan...now the NSA is monitoring the conversation and we're all going to be put on a domestic terrorist watchlist.

Tim Thorn
Tim Thorn

What if I get busted after I'm out trapping skunk? How do they know this guy didn't come to MN to trap skunk with some friends? Lots of things could have caused that money to smell that way. Why does our justice system always think of the worst scenarios? Maybe he hit a skunk on his way to drop his rental car off at the airport.

Charles Barry
Charles Barry

A moron who is smart enough to keep his drug money in the islands, legalize it and be done with this insanity!

Charles Barry
Charles Barry

Im a democrat who wants Big Government out of my hookah!!!!

Paul McDonough
Paul McDonough

Read the story people. The WHOLE story. The feds kept it because no one would officially claim it. Had they claimed it they probably would of been arrested in a sting as the authorities knew where the money came from and criminals knew the feds knew. So they walked away because they have millions more stashed away somewhere else. They make $138K in less than a day.

Lindsay Caldwell
Lindsay Caldwell

Why didn't the guy come back for the money. That's why the government gets to keep it.

Tim Thorn
Tim Thorn

What moron carries that kind of cash anyway?

Dan Mason
Dan Mason

Fuck the police. If it was my cash I'd track down the individual federal employees and anally rape them with a pressure washer.

Paul Watson
Paul Watson

Most currency has trace amounts of cocaine on it too. Just steal it all because. Murica!

Leo Espinoza
Leo Espinoza

" don't keep to keep? " or don't get to keep .............. cheers

Wade Johnson
Wade Johnson

Better headline: "State steals property on a hunch"

Azriel Materia
Azriel Materia

wow i had no idea they could take items from a person for simply smelling of it.

Adrienne E. Reed
Adrienne E. Reed

wow and they fingerprint me and make me throw away 3 bottles of bath & body works body wash when i went thru the expedited atl airport..my mama brought it all the way from iowa for me lmao

Paul Watson
Paul Watson

Where can I get some of the weed in your picture. Looks crunchy good!

John Steitz
John Steitz

They must have used those bills to snort the pots. I saw it in a movie. Drugs are terrible.

Eric Hurst
Eric Hurst

That looks like some good nug. I smell lime it too. Seize me! Haha

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

Damn - I'd have been happy to stash the cash for him for a taste of that.

Jamie Stewart
Jamie Stewart

Once something is seized as evidence it's nearly impossible to get back whether it is case related or not; seized tons of my stuff that I will never see again that was not related to case. There are warehouses full of unclaimed crap

Jamie Stewart
Jamie Stewart

My thought exactly was about to point that one out.

Steven Palacios
Steven Palacios

All that money leaving the local economy on a regular basis.

Paul C. LaManna
Paul C. LaManna

That's similar to a 'thought crime' or guilty till proven innocent - gotta love it!

David Giberson
David Giberson

This is why you hire an attorney. The feds will not be able to prove what the money smells like beyond a reasonable doubt.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Full legalization in 2016 on the ballot.  Make it happen DFL.   The people have a right.   Call your Representatives and Senators.   Colorado is bringing in millions every month.  Crime is down 10% statewide.   Let's act like adults and stop pretending the war on drugs is working.  It's time to change.  

Mike Worcester
Mike Worcester

The Civil Asset Forfeiture laws are so rigged against the people and for the government that it is basically state-sponsored/sanctioned robbery. In this case the weapon of choice is a pen and paper. And as long as law enforcement agencies stand to gain financially from these laws, there will not be any impetus to make them more fair.

Tucker Benjamin
Tucker Benjamin

Because that amount of money in cash on its own draws no suspicion whatsoever...

Angela Salzl
Angela Salzl

James Rowe I wasn't aware they were smoking and driving with my stroller in a vehicle! Until my friend (clearly not the brightest bulb) admitted it was the case when I was at the airport via text message! I wouldn't allow it by any means so I was pissed at them for sure But ultimately my point was TSA apologized as they illegally detained luggage that was already cleared to fly! I had no way of knowing as the stroller never smelled of green! But can you legally take something based on smell?

Matt Touchette
Matt Touchette

This one can't be blamed on the authorities doing their job, it's the fault of the laws in place that they were actually following. Besides, if the money really was from a legitimate business activity, then the owner would have tried to track it down and get it back (which it sounds like he did not).

James Rowe
James Rowe

While would they be smoking and driving with a baby stroller in the car in the first place?

Angela Salzl
Angela Salzl

A friend smoked some green in their car while they had my stroller ( ok so they're heavy smokers but they don't bother no one) When I went to the airport in Arizona at 4 am TSA stopped me searched EVERYTHING I had and searched me to a very uncomfortable level and said my stroller was coming up positive....... Spent hours being searched while my mother had to handle all her luggage and my 15 month old who was screaming because she wanted mommy! Now I can't really be mad as they have every right and followed procedure..... But I am! They wanted to keep my stroller but my lawyer every so kindly spoke to manager and explained that wasn't happening. Got back to mpls and none of my shit arrived nor did my car seat! Turns out it NEVER GOT PUT ON THE PLANE! so ultimately u spent 11 hrs being questioned by TSA as to why it came back positive! Did they find anything? NO was there anything? NO I ultimately received an apology letter as they intentionally kept my stuff off the plane including my car seat......

Joe Schuler
Joe Schuler

Dammit! Now I have to find a new place to stash my cash(or weed)

laxx1559
laxx1559

That get sold a police auctions.  You should really check them out, you can get great stuff for cheap.

eddogg67
eddogg67

Wouldn't have to be if our state government for their heads out of their asses and legalized it.

_Joe_
_Joe_

Yeah, but then you have to give it all to the attorney.

_Joe_
_Joe_

Yeah!  The effects of marijuana on developing strollers is well known.

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