A federal judge allowed the government to keep cash that Homeland Security agents seized because it smelled like marijuana.
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis issued a default ruling May 28 because the original owner of the cash failed to claim it before a late February deadline to do so.
Homeland Security agents were tipped off in January 2013 that a California man would be coming through the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with a large amount of illegal drug money.
Agents said a drug dog led them to two of Robert Casteel’s three pieces of luggage, and he claimed the bags contained cash from his bingo business.
Federal agents found no drugs in the man’s bags, but they found $138,121 that smelled strongly of marijuana.
Investigators seized the cash, although Casteel was not charged and was allowed to continue on to his destination in Phoenix.
Homeland Security argued in court documents that the cash came from the distribution of “high-grade” marijuana in Minnesota.
Records indicate federal agents believed the cash was linked to a raid eight months later on a Oakland, California, grow operation, but the original owner of the cash was never charged in connection with the case.
The judge did not turn over the cash to the federal government because it smelled like illegal marijuana, but his ruling cited the missed deadline.
The ruling shows a notice of forfeiture was posted for the cash in January on forfeiture.gov, but no one claimed it.
[Image: marijuana buds on US currency via Shutterstock]