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Drug agents searching Black passengers for cash at airport gates (Video)


Drug enforcement agents were caught red-handed searching the bags of Black passengers as they boarded a flight to Los Angeles from Atlanta’s Jackson-Hartsfield Airport.

Atlanta News First aired an investigation of drug agents and undercover police officers conducting “warrantless searches” of Black passengers at the world’s busiest airport.

Atlanta News First recently filmed U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers as they observed Black passengers waiting to board a plane.

The officers looked for men wearing designer clothes or bags, nice shoes, or expensive watches.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

The drug agents were looking for large amounts of cash that they would then confiscate without charging the passenger for any wrongdoing.

Film director Tabari Sturdivant said he was approached by undercover agents demanding to search his bags.

“He just approached me, and he asked me for my ID,” Sturdivant said. “He didn’t state who he was. He just asked me for ID, and I thought he was a Delta agent. He had airport credentials on, and so I gave it to him immediately.”

The search of Sturdivant’s bag turned up no drugs or cash, and he was allowed to board the flight.

Emmy-winning Hollywood actor Jean Elie was also searched before boarding an Atlanta-to-Los Angeles flight in 2020.

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Photo may have been deleted

“See all those white folks, and I’m a random search, guys,” Elie said as he recorded the officer searching his bag. Elie refused to answer the officer’s questions.

“Ever been arrested before?,” one of the officers asked him. Elie replied, “Don’t worry about it, man… just hurry up and check my bag please and hurry so I can go back on my flight, please.”

Nothing was found in Elie’s bag and he was allowed to continue on his way.

Comedians Erik André and Clayton English filed a lawsuit against Clayton County police for targeting them at the airport.

Their lawsuit noted “these encounters are neither random nor consensual.”

Atlanta News First obtained records from Clayton County police that showed 56 percent of airport searches involved Black passengers, and 68 percent were people of color.

Records show agents have seized millions of dollars from passengers at boarding gates. The money is used to fatten police coffers and is not returned – even if no drugs were found.

Some passengers are still fighting to get their money back a year after the cash was seized without a warrant.

The agents cite an old law that allowed police to seize drug proceeds and property without a warrant. But the law is being used to seize cash from innocent citizens who are not involved in drug activity.

Watch the video below.

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