Ohio man suing Customs and Border Protection after they took his life savings at airport

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An Ohio man is suing U.S. Customs and Border Protection because he claims they took more than $58,000 from him. 

According to WEWS, Rustem Kazazi, 68, boarded a plane at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in October on his way to visit family in his home country of Albania. When he landed in New Jersey for a layover before leaving the country, he was ready to declare the amount of cash he was carrying, but the money didn’t make it that far.

“He was intercepted by TSA at the airport because he had money in his luggage,” Erald Kazazi, Rustem Kazazi’s son, told WEWS. “While he was traveling domestically, he was carrying all of his life savings.”

Erald Kazazi said the TSA called Customs and Border Protection, and the agents accused Rustem of smuggling or drug trafficking and strip-searched him. They seized the cash but did not charge Rustem with a crime. 

“We’ve never done anything wrong, to to have CBP take his money with no cause whatsoever was shocking,” Erald said. 

Rustam is an American citizen and it took more than 12 years for him to save that amount of money. Seven months later, Rustam still hasn’t received any of the money back and still hasn’t been charged with any crime. 

“Innocent until proven guilty, in this case it doesn’t seem so,” Erald said. “It seems like they want us to prove our innocence.”

CBP declined to provide a statement or further details because they do not comment on open cases. 

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