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DEA Seized $4 Billion From People Since 2007. Most Were Never Charged with a Crime


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#1 Semo

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 01:26 PM

DEA Seized $4 Billion From People Since 2007. Most Were Never Charged with a Crime

 

 

A new government watchdog report finds the DEA grabs cash just for the sake of grabbing cash, raising civil liberties concerns.

C.J. Ciaramella|

 

Mar. 29, 2017 3:20 pm

 

The Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of drug activity over the last decade, but $3.2 billion of those seizures were never connected to any criminal charges.

 

A report by the Justice Department Inspector General released Wednesday found that the DEA's gargantuan amount of cash seizures often didn't relate to any ongoing criminal investigations, and 82 percent of seizures it reviewed ended up being settled administratively—that is, without any judicial review—raising civil liberties concerns.

 

In total, the Inspector General reports the DEA seized $4.15 billion in cash since 2007, accounting for 80 percent of all Justice Department cash seizures. Those figures do not include other property, such as cars and electronics, which are favorite targets for seizure by law enforcement.

 

 

All of this is possible through civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement to seize property if they suspect it's connected to criminal activity, without having to file criminal charges against the owner. While law enforcement groups say civil asset forfeiture is a vital tool to disrupt drug traffickers and organized crime, the Inspector General's findings echo the concerns of many civil liberties groups, which say asset forfeiture creates perverse incentives for law enforcement to seize property.

 

"When seizure and administrative forfeitures do not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution," the Inspector General warned.

 

Darpana Sheth, an attorney for the libertarian-leaning nonprofit law firm Institute for Justice, said in a statement that the report's findings "fundamentally undercut law enforcement's claim that civil forfeiture is a vital crime-fighting tool."

 

"Americans are already outraged at the Justice Department's aggressive use of civil forfeiture, which has mushroomed into a multibillion dollar program in the last decade," she continued. "This report only further confirms what we have been saying all along: Forfeiture laws create perverse financial incentives to seize property without judicial oversight and violate due process."

 

 

More than a dozen states have passed reforms to civil asset forfeiture in recent years in response to civil liberties concerns, but the practice remains robust in part because of joint federal and state drug task forces, which share forfeiture proceeds through the Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Fund.

 

According to the report, the Justice Department's Asset Forfeiture program participants have collected $28 billion over the last decade.

 

As part of its investigation, the Justice Department Inspector General reviewed 100 DEA seizures that occurred without court issued-warrants or accompanying narcotics seizures—cases it said presented "particularly significant" risks to civil liberties.

 

Only 44 of the 100 seizures were connected to or advanced a criminal investigation. The majority of seizures occurred in airports, train stations, and bus terminals, where the DEA regularly snoops on travel records and maintains a network of travel industry employees who act as confidential informants.

 

According to the Inspector General, common red flags for passengers are "traveling to or from a known source city for drug trafficking, purchasing a ticket within 24 hours of travel, purchasing a ticket for a long flight with an immediate return, purchasing a one-way ticket, and traveling without checked luggage."

DEA agents then detain and question travelers with large amounts of cash, and, if they determine the money is linked to drug activity, seize it, even if there is no hard evidence that it is connected to illegal activity. As the Inspector General notes, these agents "rely on their immediate, on-the-spot judgment." The passenger is then released, bereft of money but otherwise free to go.

 

The report highlights one case where DEA agents detained a man at the airport and, after searching his duffel bag, found several rubber-banded bundles of hundred-dollar bills:

 

When a task force officer explained that the U.S. currency in the bag was going to be seized pending further investigation, the passenger asked whether he could keep some of the currency to travel home. The passenger asserted that all of the currency in the bag was his, and the task force officers allowed him to retain $1,000. This seizure resulted in an administrative forfeiture of $27,000 to the U.S. government, and the DEA explained to the OIG that, other than the events surrounding the seizure, there was no subsequent investigative activity or additional law enforcement benefit.

 

If the DEA task force agents thought that man's cash was connected to drug activity, why allow him to keep some of it? If they weren't sure, why take it in the first place? The answer, of course, is there is no logical or legal rationale for this sequence of events.

 

"We found that different task force officers made different decisions in similar situations when deciding whether to seize all of the cash discovered," the Inspector General wrote. "These differences demonstrate how seizure decisions can appear arbitrary, which should be a concern for the Department, both because of potentially improper conduct and because even the appearance of arbitrary decision-making in asset seizure can fuel public perception that law enforcement is not using this authority legitimately, thereby undermining public confidence in law enforcement."

 

Most of these types of seizures are never challenged. The Inspector General found petitions were filed in only 20 percent of DEA cash seizures, but of those, 40 percent saw money fully or partially returned to the owner, indicating that there may be a significant amount of unfounded seizures that go unchallenged.

The Inspector General recommended the Justice Department collect data to evaluate whether asset forfeitures and seizures advance criminal investigations, which it currently does not do.

 

In a written response to the Inspector General included in the report, the Justice Department's Criminal Division disputed both the report's findings and methodology. It maintains that civil asset forfeiture is "a critical tool to fight the current heroin and opioid epidemic that is raging in the United States."

 

http://reason.com/bl...from-people-sin



#2 Semo

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 01:30 PM

People that cry about all of the reforms that are needed in this country should rank this bullshit near the top.  Licensed to steal.  Even if not charged, you have little recourse to recover your property.

 

The last paragraph shows the hypocrisy in this policy.  Opioid epidemic??  Where is the number one place that a person obtains opioids??  Their doctor.  But, you get your house raided, possessions stolen, and freedom taken for smoking a plant.  Freedom, baby!



#3 xen

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 01:35 PM

People should be outraged over this. But they aren't. It's very perplexing.

#4 eraser

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Posted 01 April 2017 - 02:08 PM

Property rights are clearly protected in the Constitution. The same laws that allowed England to take property without trial of people, is the same logic used today in forfeiture laws that our Constitution was supposed to stop. These laws allow property to be prosecuted as if it were an actual person. It is ridiculous.

 

The US Constitution is supposed to be The preeminent basis for our rule of law. Yet, time, and time again lawyers, and judges use old case law, that predates our Constitution, to allow our rights to be trodden over. 

 

I have written against this. I agree with you wholeheartedly.



#5 mex

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 07:49 PM

People should be outraged over this. But they aren't. It's very perplexing.

probably because it's too complex of an issue to make for a simple facebook meme


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#6 Smoulder

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 04:53 AM

probably because it's too complex of an issue to make for a simple facebook meme


Naw, I see fb memes about civil asset forfeiture all the time. Just not on the pages of the sort of hypocritical trash who wrap themselves in the Constitution when it's convenient but look the other way when it comes to being the most prolific prison state in the history of the world, or the property violations of 60,ooo paramilitary S.W.A.T. home invasion per year (with associated collateral damage and the all-too-frequent wrong address), etc. You know - the bootlickers, the fascists, the "drug warriors"...
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#7 mex

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 01:32 PM

Naw, I see fb memes about civil asset forfeiture all the time. Just not on the pages of the sort of hypocritical trash who wrap themselves in the Constitution when it's convenient but look the other way when it comes to being the most prolific prison state in the history of the world, or the property violations of 60,ooo paramilitary S.W.A.T. home invasion per year (with associated collateral damage and the all-too-frequent wrong address), etc. You know - the bootlickers, the fascists, the "drug warriors"...

your opinion is perplexing smolds.

 

people who understand the constitution... libertarians especially... despise yielding power to a centralized authority on any level.

 

you talk about bootlickers and fascists and associate them with right wingers, with your inference that this is all driven by the war on drugs.

 

I'll agree with you wholeheartedly that much of this is because of the futile war on drugs

 

where you lose credibility in the debate is your outspoken support for the very people (clinton, sanders, lefties) who wreck liberty and empower themselves through the force of centralized government.  hypocritical trash indeed

 

You cannot have fascism without a disarmed populace and a powerful ruling elite, yet you support the very people who would fast-lane us to that point.

 

You frame your argument against those thug republicans, but you readily support the disguised totalitarians because... they'll give you free shit like healthcare.

 

You make a very poor defender of freedom and individual rights, when you can be bribed into yielding power and liberty in the name of comfort and security.



#8 Semo

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 02:20 PM

The one thing I will give Obama is that he kept federal enforcement of drug laws out of states where it was legal, for the most part.  I wish he would have practiced that in other areas of government also.  But, I digress.  Yes, he was not enforcing that law, as he is supposed to, but it is a shitty law.  And, lets face it, it only benefits the textile industry (hemp is much more versatile and cost efficient than cotton, or even wood), BigPharma (Cannibas is a proven therapy for many diseases), and law enforcement (through asset forfeiture) as stated in the article.

 

The libertarian in me always goes back to the liberty argument. That SWAT is used to serve warrants for misdemeanor amounts of MJ, under cover of night, with sometimes deadly consequences, is totalitarian and mirrors the now defunct Soviet Union.

 

I don't need the government to be my f'ing babysitter.  If I want to get high in the privacy of my own home, or treat my cancer or epilepsy with alternative therapies, I should be able to do so.


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#9 mex

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 02:26 PM

I don't need the government to be my f'ing babysitter.  

but what if they promise to take really really good care of you, and give you everything you want?

 

lots of people actually WISH for that very scenario



#10 jetlord

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 03:06 PM

but what if they promise to take really really good care of you, and give you everything you want?

 

lots of people actually WISH for that very scenario

More sex, more beer, more gooseberry pie?  I might be tempted.   :lol:  :lol:



#11 Semo

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 03:19 PM

but what if they promise to take really really good care of you, and give you everything you want?

 

lots of people actually WISH for that very scenario

Well...I guess that I am not lots of people.



#12 xen

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 06:03 PM

The war in drugs is an abject failure on every level.
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#13 mex

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 12:05 AM

Well...I guess that I am not lots of people.

which is why we love you seems



#14 mex

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 12:06 AM

The war in drugs is an abject failure on every level.

It has empowered government, which is considered a success by a lot of people



#15 xen

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 12:07 AM

It has empowered government, which is considered a success by a lot of people


And those people are wrong. Dangerously so.

#16 mex

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Posted 08 April 2017 - 12:12 AM

And those people are wrong. Dangerously so.

yep






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