Tag Archives: civil asset forfeiture

Joe Biden: Father of the Drug War’s Asset Forfeiture Program, by Chris Calton

Back when his brain was intact, Joe Biden had a lot to do with law enforcement’s widespread adoption of civil asset forfeiture. From Chris Calton at mises.org:

In 1991, Maui police officers showed up at the home of Frances and Joseph Lopes. One officer showed his badge and said, “Let’s go into the house, and we will explain things to you.” Once he was inside, the explanation was simple: “We’re taking the house.”

The Lopses were far from wealthy. They worked on a sugar plantation for nearly fifty years, living in camp housing, to save up enough money to buy a modest, middle-class home. But in 1987, their son Thomas was caught with marijuana. He was twenty-eight, and he suffered from mental health issues. He grew the marijuana in the backyard of his parents’ home, but every time they tried to cut it down, Thomas threatened suicide. When he was arrested, he pled guilty, was given probation since it was his first offense, and he was ordered to see a psychologist once a week. Frances and Joseph were elated. Their son got better, he stopped smoking marijuana, and the episode was behind them.

But when the police showed up and told them that their house was being seized, they learned that the episode was not behind them. That statute of limitations for civil asset forfeiture was five years. It had only been four. Legally, the police could seize any property connected to the marijuana plant from 1987. They had resurrected the Lopes case during a department-wide search through old cases looking for property they could legally confiscate.

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Asset Forfeiture and the Destruction of American Liberty, by Jacob G. Hornberger

Civil asset forfeiture laws are an abomination and clear violate the US constitution. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:

For centuries, it has been an established tenet of Western jurisprudence that a person cannot be punished for a crime unless the government first convicts him of the crime in a court of law. After the Constitution called the federal government into existence, our American ancestors demanded that this principle be enshrined in the Bill of Rights because they were convinced that federal officials would end up violating it.

The Fifth Amendment states in part: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury…. nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

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When they can take your children away… how free are you? by Simon Black

Civil asset forfeiture requires no proof a crime was committed for the government to take your property, and in some cases your children. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

George Reby was driving from New Jersey to Tennessee to pick up a car he had purchased on eBay when he was stopped for speeding.

Like many Americans, George felt he had nothing to hide from the police. So when the officer asked him if he was carrying any large amounts of cash, he admitted he had $22,000 on him because he was buying a car.

George was able to show the officer his eBay bids, and that the sale was legitimate. He was able to demonstrate that he has income from his job as an insurance adjuster.

But none of that mattered. The cop seized George’s money on the spot.

Later, in a court hearing that George was not allowed to participate in, the judge allowed the police to keep the money even though George was never charged with a crime.

There was no proof of wrongdoing. Even more, George had proof that there was NO wrongdoing.

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Policing For Profit: How Civil Asset Forfeiture Has Perverted American Law Enforcement, by ammo.com

Civil asset forfeiture has grown into a horrifying monster, with only scattered realization of its evils. From ammo.com:

Picture this: You’re driving home from the casino and you’ve absolutely cleaned up – to the tune of $50,000. You see a police car pull up behind you, but you can’t figure out why. Not only have you not broken any laws, you’re not even speeding. But the police officer doesn’t appear to be interested in charging you with a crime. Instead, he takes your gambling winnings, warns you not to say anything to anyone unless you want to be charged as a drug kingpin, then drives off into the sunset.

This actually happened to Tan Nguyen, and his story is far from unique. It’s called civil asset forfeiture and it’s a multi-billion dollar piggybank for state, local and federal police departments to fund all sorts of pet projects.

With its origins in the British fight against piracy on the open seas, civil asset forfeiture is nothing new. During Prohibition, police officers often seized goods, cash and equipment from bootleggers in a similar manner to today. However, contemporary civil asset forfeiture begins right where you’d think that it would: The War on Drugs.

In 1986, as First Lady Nancy Reagan encouraged America’s youth to “Just Say No,” the Justice Department started the Asset Forfeiture Fund. This sparked a boom in civil asset forfeiture that’s now become self-reinforcing, as the criminalization of American life and asset forfeiture have continued to feed each other.

In sum, asset forfeiture creates a motivation to draft more laws by the legislature, while more laws create greater opportunities for seizure by law enforcement. This perverse incentive structure is having devastating consequences: In 2014 alone, law enforcement took more stuff from American citizens than burglars did.

The current state of civil asset forfeiture in the United States is one of almost naked tyranny. Don’t believe us? Read on.

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The Return of the Deodand, by Jeff Thomas

Civil asset forfeiture is the resurrection of an old and hated practice. From Jeff Thomas at international man.com:

In 1066, my family were centred in Somerset, England, where, if a horse ran over and killed someone, or a boat capsized, and caused a drowning, that horse or boat was given over to the victim’s family, under “noxal surrender.”

Alternatively, if an animal or object were responsible for the death of a person other than its owner, it could be taken and sold, and the proceeds passed to the family of the deceased.

One can see the purpose here – to provide some sort of compensation for those aggrieved.

However, as readers will know, the Normans came over to the British Isles in 1066 and conquered much of England.

Subsequently, the practice of noxal surrender was formalized into English common law and enforced by the state.

And, of course, as we know, when the state takes charge of anything, no matter how insignificant, it eventually finds a way to turn that power into a means of state profit.

The state, by its very nature is a parasite. It produces nothing. It serves to extract value from those who do produce.

And so, beginning in the late eleventh century, the deodand was introduced into law. A deodand was defined as a chattel that had caused a death and was therefore guilty of a crime against God. The Crown would find the chattel itself guilty of being a deodand, would confiscate the chattel, sell it and give the proceeds to “a pious purpose” – not to the aggrieved party.

Once the aggrieved party was removed from the equation, it wasn’t difficult to expand the law to include not only the loss of the chattel, but a fine of equal value to the chattel.

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Break the Cycle: In 2019, Say No to the Government’s Cruelty, Brutality and Abuse, by John W. Whitehead

The Founders are spinning in their graves. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.”—Edmund Burke

Folks, it’s time to break the cycle.

Let’s make 2019 the year we say no to the laundry list of abuses—cruel, brutal, immoral, unconstitutional and unacceptable—that have been heaped upon us by the government for way too long.

Let’s make 2019 the year we stop living in a state of utter denial, desensitized to the government’s acts of violence, accustomed to reports of government corruption, and anesthetized to the sights and sounds of Corporate America marching in lockstep with the police state.

Let’s make 2019 the year we refuse to allow the government’s abusive behavior to be our new normal. There is nothing normal about egregious surveillance, roadside strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, censorship, retaliatory arrests, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, indefinite detentions, SWAT team raids, asset forfeiture, police brutality, profit-driven prisons, or pay-to-play politicians.

Here’s just a small sampling of what we suffered through in 2018.

The government failed to protect our lives, liberty and happiness. The predators of the police state wreaked havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives. The government didn’t listen to the citizenry, refused to abide by the Constitution, and treated the citizenry as a source of funding and little else. Police officers shot unarmed citizens and their household pets. Government agents—including local police—were armed to the teeth and encouraged to act like soldiers on a battlefield. Bloated government agencies were allowed to fleece taxpayers. Government technicians spied on our emails and phone calls. And government contractors made a killing by waging endless wars abroad.

The president became more imperial. Although the Constitution invests the President with very specific, limited powers, in recent years, American presidents (Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc.) have claimed the power to completely and almost unilaterally alter the landscape of this country for good or for ill. The powers amassed by each successive president through the negligence of Congress and the courts—powers which add up to a toolbox of terror for an imperial ruler—empower whomever occupies the Oval Office to act as a dictator, above the law and beyond any real accountability. The presidency itself has become an imperial one with permanent powers.

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Texas Police Made Over $50 Million in 2017 From Seizing People’s Property, by Edgar Walters and Jolie Mccullough

This is a fine example of a dying art: real journalism. Edgar Walters and Jolie Mccullough have written an in-depth story about civil asset forfeiture. It’s clear where their sympathies lie. However, they also give due account to the other side and let readers make up their own minds. From Walters and Mccullough at the Texas Tribune via theantimedia.org:

In February 2016, prosecutors in Houston filed a lawsuit against a truck: State of Texas vs. One 2003 Chevrolet Silverado.

Houston police had seized the vehicle after surveilling its driver, Macario Hernandez, and pulling him over after he left his house. They took the truck to court, hoping to keep it or sell it at auction to fund their operations, claiming the vehicle was known to be involved in the drug trade.

But the truck’s owner, Oralia Rodriguez, was never charged with a crime. She wasn’t at the scene when officers pulled over Hernandez, her son, and found 13.5 grams of marijuana in his pocket. In fact, Rodriguez said she had recently loaned him the car so he could drive his pregnant girlfriend to the doctor. The girlfriend was having difficulty with her pregnancy and was at risk of losing the baby, Rodriguez said. She was desperate not to lose her truck, which had recently had new tires installed among other repairs, which she was still working to pay off.

“My sole intention was to help out. … Now I am in this situation of losing what I have worked very hard for,” she wrote to local prosecutors. “I am begging you please allow me to have my truck back.”

 

Government now wants to seize your car for going 5 MPH over the limit, by Simon Black

Civil asset forfeiture easily ranks in the top 10 list of government scams, although there’s plenty of competition. From sovereignman.com:

We’ve discussed this on and off for several years now. Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process that allows the government to seize assets and cash from citizens without any due process or judicial oversight.

You don’t even have to be charged with a crime. You are assumed guilty unless you can somehow prove your innocence.

Of course, not everyone has this ability… if you aren’t local, state, or federal law enforcement, this is called stealing, and you go to prison.

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But the government is actually a bigger problem than common thieves.

A 2015 report showed that law enforcement used civil asset forfeiture to steal more from US residents than every thief, robber, and burglar in America combined.

About $4.5 BILLION worth of cash, cars, homes, and other property is taken by civil asset forfeiture each year — hundreds of millions more than common criminals steal.

And it happens at every level. Your local cop can use civil asset forfeiture just like your state trooper. And then any one of the armed agents of the US government—from the FBI to the Fish and Wildlife Service—can rob you for whatever reason they want.

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The Real Thieves

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2018/08/06/the-real-thieves/

A 64-year-old put his life savings in his carry-on. U.S. Customs took it without charging him with a crime. By Christopher Ingraham

Welcome to the bizarre and unjust world of civil asset forfeiture. From Christopher Ingraham at washingtonpost.com:


Rustem Kazazi. left, at home with wife Lejla and son Erald in Parma Heights, Ohio. (Institute for Justice)

A 64-year-old Cleveland man is suing U.S. Customs and Border Protection after agents strip-searched him at an airport in October and took more than $58,000 in cash from him without charging him with any crime, according to a federal lawsuit filed this week in Ohio.

Customs agents seized the money through a process known as civil asset forfeiture, a law enforcement technique that allows authorities to take cash and property from people who are never convicted or even charged with a crime. The practice is widespread at the federal level. In 2017, federal authorities seized more than $2 billion in assets from people, a net loss similar in size to annual losses from residential burglaries in the United States.

Customs says it suspects that the petitioner in the case, Rustem Kazazi, was involved in smuggling, drug trafficking or money laundering. Kazazi denies those allegations and says that the agency is violating federal law by keeping his money without filing any formal complaint against him.

Kazazi is a retired officer with the Albanian police who relocated with his family to the United States in 2005 after receiving visas through the State Department’s lottery program. They became U.S. citizens in 2010. After several years away, Kazazi planned a trip to Albania last fall to visit relatives, make repairs on a family property and potentially purchase a vacation home.

He took $58,100 in U.S. currency with him, the product of 12 years of savings by Kazazi, his wife, Lejla, and his son Erald, who is finishing a chemical engineering degree at Cleveland State University, according to the lawsuit. The family lives in Parma Heights, a suburb of Cleveland.

In an interview translated by his son, Kazazi said safety concerns prompted him to take cash on his trip, rather than wire the funds to a local bank.

“The crime [in Albania] is much worse than it is here,” he said. “Other people that have made large withdrawals [from Albanian banks] have had people intercept them and take their money. The exchange rates and fees are [also] excessive.”

To continue reading: A 64-year-old put his life savings in his carry-on. U.S. Customs took it without charging him with a crime.