If you're making a quick trip to the Coast, pack light - and don't stuff large amounts of money in your bags

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.

Innocent, etc.



    Free tagging: 

    DEA agent's affidavit1.03 MB



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    If you are making a quick flight anywhere and a DEA agents asks if you would mindtalking to him, SAY NO



    McMahon could have easily speculated in one of the many legal drug companies that are listed on the Nasdaq and NYSE. He could have also invested and tried to make money on one of the big four breweries of the world; SAB Miller, AB InBev, Heineken, Carlsberg, or at least worked as a stockbroker to facilitate others making money, as he seems to be doing here. Those types of body chemistry altering things are fine according to the law. Marijuana?, well cripes Sgt. Friday, let's lock him up.

    I don't smoke, but can we please legalize pot here so the cops can stop chasing this type of crime and focus on solving / preventing shootings, property crime, and dealing with serial domestic violence cases? Please? You can keep your nice drug sniffing puppy, take him to Allston, he can point at everything.


    What a serious waste of tax

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    What a serious waste of tax payer dollars. Taxpayers spent probably more than 100k in salaries/labor hours just in this case so McMahon and his buddies can chase some guy that wants to buy some weed.


    If he'd get a medical

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    If he'd get a medical marijuana script he could not be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana; instead he'd have to be charged with impaired driving... which is much more difficult to prove in court.

    More to the point

    There isn't a lot of good evidence that marijuana use impairs driving anyway, and it is certainly difficult to set any level of THC where someone is driving intoxicated.

    The laws are all based on assumptions, not on hard science like the alcohol laws are.

    I'd be more than happy to see

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    some more studies done on marijuana and its effects on driving, given the number of people I've seen driving around with clouds of fragrant smoke drifting out of the car OR with an actual joint in progress as they drive. I've read about how it doesn't impair drivers to the same extent as alcohol but given that it's difficult to gauge how much has been ingested and judging by my own personal experience on how goofy I get, I think it's very unwise to get behind the wheel.


    Thanks, Pete.

    You got my point - there are very few studies = no citations = regulation based on presumptions of impairment at low doses that may not exist.

    And, hey, if our anonymous troll would like to produce some peer reviewed studies that demonstrate that what I said is "foolishness", that would be great!

    In the meantime, this is a good article about all that we don't know about weed and driving: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/18/health/driving-under-the-influence-of-...

    Even then, it is obvious that drinking any alcohol and driving, or, worse yet, mixing, is more dangerous than smoking and driving:

    All of these facts lead experts like Dr. Romano and Dr. Kleiman to believe that public resources are better spent combating drunken driving. Stoned driving, they say, is best dealt with by discouraging people from mixing marijuana and alcohol — a combination that is even riskier than alcohol alone — and by policies that minimize marijuana’s risk on the road. [...] And Dr. Romano said that lowering the legal blood-alcohol concentration, or B.A.C., to 0.05 or even 0.02 percent would reduce risk far more effectively than any effort to curb stoned driving.

    Not that I would get behind the wheel stoned myself ... but I don't drive if I've had a couple of beers (even though I'm well below the legal limit) for the same reasons: It bugs the heck out of me.

    drug dogs

    "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."

    Given that 90% of U.S. currency has traces of cocaine on it, courts need to start disallowing that as probable cause. A drug dog reacting to money isn't proof of anything.


    Not only that, but

    Dogs react to their handler's cues. They will do what their people want for a treat and praise.

    That's about as useful as a lie detector test - except lie detector tests are such well known bosh as to be inadmissable.



    Dogs are extremely good at understanding what their handler wants them to do. There's probably around 20,000 to 50,000 years of selective breeding invested in getting them to be that way. By all means use dogs in search - they're extremely good at it. But It's ridiculous to allow a dog 'hitting' on something as probable cause.


    I've seen weed dogs in action.

    They are actually very accurate and in Boston are not used for probably cause to search motor vehicles, but are usually used after the car has been towed (to find drug hides). The handlers also usually treat them the same, and I've never seen them try to make their dogs "find a hit".

    I've seen bomb dogs come up blank during training exercises which has always raised my suspicion on those dogs regarding their accuracy.

    I've never seen a search dog find a suspect/lost person in the City, although I'm sure in rural areas they work much better.

    Handlers don't cue them on purpose

    The handlers also usually treat them the same, and I've never seen them try to make their dogs "find a hit".

    It is not a conscious cuing. The dogs, however, are so damn good at reading humans, they take the hints even if they aren't intentional.


    (yes, the link goes to NORML, which has its own agenda as we know - HOWEVER they link to the relevant UC Davis study http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/pets/detail?en... and others, making this a pretty good rundown of the downside of canine searches)

    The study, published in the January issue of the journal Animal Cognition, found that detection-dog teams erroneously “alerted,” or identified a scent, when there was no scent present more than 200 times — particularly when the handler believed that there was scent present.

    That's right

    It is not a conscious cuing. The dogs, however, are so damn good at reading humans, they take the hints even if they aren't intentional.

    That's right. See the article on "Clever Hans" above -- all indications are that Clever Hans's owner was not a charlatan, but instead he genuinely believed that the horse could do simple arithmetic -- that his cueing of the horse was entirely unconscious on his part.

    Does that study take in consideration the reward of the handler?

    It looks like a good part of this study revolves around the handler getting a clue during a search. If the handler is properly trained, this shouldn't be an issue.

    I've seen some pretty amazing training situations, where a K-9 handler will ask a class to hide weed in a space in a room. The dog with handler then comes in and can find the weed 100 percent of the time. (Ok I've only seen this about 20 times). Durning bomb bomb dog searches however, I've seen dogs simply not find the same item (a piece of material that is supposed to simulate dynamite or bomb making material).

    On the street I've witnessed the same thing. If the handler has no idea if there are drugs in the car, (smell would probably be your red construction paper used in the study), dogs will either find it nor not find it. We don't really know if dogs didnt smell something that wasnt there ( no search=no drugs), but a smell of un burnt weed by a human would most likely result in a dog smelling the same thing.

    I also believe this type if study involving animal training is a double blind study, where both handler and animal are unaware if the study. This in itself places a stimuli on the handler that shouldn't (shouldn't meaning if the officer is properly trained) happen in the field. This study should tell you that the handlers need retraining, not that dogs aren't useful in searches right?

    jardines v florida

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    look up us supreme court case jardines v florida, hadda do a paper on it last semester. basically guy got arrested for growing pot when the drug sniffing dog and officer illegally entered the property, where the dog alerted the officer that drugs were in the house leading to a search warrant and ultimately arrest.supreme court ruled that the drug sniffing dog was a false- positive and is only right about 40-60% of the time.

    I doubt those small traces

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    I doubt those small traces are what triggered a dog. He was obituary moving a significant amount of cash to facilitate a drug operation. This should be considered good work. Just because he smokes pot does not mean he was not buying something else