Agents seize almost $23k in cash stuffed in shoes at Charlotte airport

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Government agents seized nearly $23,000 in cash from the suitcase of a 22-year-old man flying through Charlotte-Douglas International Airport this summer.

The man is a recent college graduate from Florida and was flying from Orlando to Los Angeles to look for apartments. His flight stopped in Charlotte on June 5.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and Homeland Security were flagging bags headed into drug source states like California during a drug operation. Several different drug-sniffing dogs hit on the man’s two suitcases and agents found $22,980 -- mostly in $20 bills and in stacks of $1,000 -- stuffed inside shoes.

Agents said they seized the cash and put a warrant in the man’s suitcase. They sent it on to Los Angeles but they never talked to the man until he got to California and called police about his missing money.

The man claimed the cash came from a graduation gift, some from his father and the rest from doing odd-jobs. But drug agents said his travel doesn’t match his story. They tracked 15 flights from Florida to California over the past year and a half.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office recently filed paperwork to keep the money and has not charged the man.

There are no laws against flying with large amounts of cash, but federal agents can question how you got it. When they do, they can take your money and keep it.