New reports indicate that the Drug Enforcement Agency is in the habit of combing through Americans’ travel itineraries in search of those few people who might be trafficking drugs or working for a terrorist organization.
According to USA Today, federal drug agents have looked through the records of passengers who’ve traveled via Amtrak and every major airline. The basis for these deep dives comes from a network of informants who work at every level of the airline industry. Everyone from the ticket counter employees to the back office workers act as informants for the DEA, passing along suspicion information. Apparently, travelers have been identified as possible threats, “for reasons as seemingly benign as traveling one-way to California or having paid for a ticket in cash.”
What’s more, these incursions into travel plans have been executed largely without the knowledge of the airlines.
This information isn’t used to gather evidence for cases, however. More often than not, this information translates into the seizure of large amounts of cash from travelers. Once the DEA connects the money with drug trafficking, they’re within their rights to seize the money. More than $209 million dollars has been accrued through this method over the past decade.