The government is moving to keep $58,300 in currency seized by agents at Logan Airport from a man who had reserved a flight for a one-day trip to San Francisco just two days earlier, on a flight allegedly frequented by drug couriers.
In an affidavit in support of the government's request, a DEA agent said officials were notified of the late reservation on Virgin Atlantic Flight 537 for March 25 and staked out the terminal looking for the ticket's purchaser, John McMahon. The affidavit says that particular flight has become popular among Boston drug couriers for making purchases on the West Coast and then returning to Boston loaded with contraband.
When agents noticed McMahon had two bags for a trip they knew was only going to last a day, they moved in and asked him to come with them for some questioning.
McMahon, the affidavit says, agreed, but was unable to say exactly how much money was in the bags but that it came from "a legitimate unknown source" and that he was on his way to San Francisco to consult on some business involving medical marijuana.
Meanwhile, other agents and a state trooper were busy searching McMahon's bags and, the affidavit says, found $58,300 in cash, stashed in various places, including inside a pair of pants, cardboard toilet-paper and paper-towel tubes, a pair of shoes and a cardboard Starbucks box.
After he was informed of the search results, McMahon asked if he could just take his money and book another flight. The agent told him he was free to go, but that the money was staying with them, on suspicion of being meant for drug transactions.
At that point, McMahon left the airport. Agents took the bags to a Logan garage, hid them in some random spot, then unleashed a drug-sniffing dog at the garage's entrance. The dog, the affidavit says, quickly made his way to the bags.
A month later, McMahon was arrested on the Cape on a charge of driving under the influence of marijuana.
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