The Forfeiture Racket

Police and prosecutors won't give up their license to steal.

(Page 5 of 5)

The country’s lurch to the political left won’t necessarily mean a greater protection for civil liberties in forfeiture cases. Asset seizure, in fact, is one area where conservatives tend to take a less law-enforcement-friendly position than liberals. “Conservatives value property,” Kessler says, “so they tend to be sympathetic to property owners in these cases. If you look back at the Supreme Court cases putting limits on forfeiture, most were written by conservative justices. And of course Rep. Hyde was a conservative Republican.”

Don’t be surprised, then, if forfeiture power expands in the coming years, particularly with respect to financial fraud, tax evasion, and other white-collar crimes. “It’s always a pendulum, swinging back and forth,” Kessler says. “I think we are in the pro-government phase now.”

But over the long term, Kessler is more optimistic about reform. Expanding unjust forfeiture laws to include new classes of people makes the members of those classes aware of just how unfair those laws can be. And the government always overplays its hand. “We all get greedy, and the government is no exception,” he says. “I think that in this climate, they’ll go for too much, and then the courts will rein them in. It’s unfortunate that that’s the way it has to happen.”

As for Anthony Smelley: As of this writing, more than a year after the police took $17,500 of his money, he has yet to have his day in court.

Radley Balko (rbalko@reason.com) is a senior editor at reason.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Radley: Congratulations on your excellent and comprehensive piece on asset forfeiture. Admiralty rules and procedures apply to the federal In Rem proceedings brought against seized assets. Like Capt. Jack Aubrey in Patricl O'Brian's "Letters of Marque", local cops now cruise the highways instead of the high seas in search of carriers of contraband. Added to the due process violations you describe are frequent violations of the Fourth Amendment committed by these new "publicteers" as they hail, heave to, board and confiscate as "prize" vehicles and other property of those who have the misfortune of appearing suspicious. There is some, but not much, Fourth Amendment protection here via the exclusionary rule but, as you point out, most victims do not have the resources to hire lawyers to protect their interests.

  • ||

    Wow, I have to admit you do indeed raise some valid points

    RT
    www.online-privacy.int.tc

  • Meathead||

    As usual, so do you.

  • bigbootylove||

    Someone save this country ! OH GOD !

  • Rick H.||

    Moderators: Please remove this spammer freak's link sig. It's not a call for censorship. He can still post his non sequiturs under 700 different names.

  • Suki||

    Good Morning reason!

  • Ratko||

    Everytime you write that it makes me wonder what it would be like if people in general started each day with a clean slate, a positive attitude, and with an intention to practice reasoned thinking as first order of the day.

    Wow, what a world that would be.

  • Suki||

    A lovely world it is!

  • TheOtherSomeGuy||

    Good article.

    I'm familiar with the abuses detailed here. While I've never been arrested or had my own property confiscated, my tattooist had her home, three cars, and $15,000 in cash confiscated because she was found with a J in her ride, allowing the cops to search her home (apparently) where they found 2 oz of hydro.

    It's been 7 months and she still hasn't been charged, but she saw where her fully restored 1972 Nova has already been auctioned off...

  • ||

    It's amazing to me there aren't more dead cops.

  • ||

    American has become a nation of cowards run by bullies.

  • Ratko||

    “If you think aficionados of a living Constitution want to bring you flexibility, think again. You think the death penalty is a good idea? Persuade your fellow citizens to adopt it. You want a right to abortion? Persuade your fellow citizens and enact it. That's flexibility.”
    - Antonin Scalia

    Blaming cops is a dead end, it does no good to further muddy already muddy with idiotic hatreds. Where are your fellow citizens on this one? Where are your legislators who gave the green light to begin with? The attorneys play no part in this? What of the companies profitting by offering classes encouraging it?

    You don't honestly believe any good would come from murdering a bunch of people do you?

    The ultimate responsibility in this comes back on us. It's people like Radley Balko bringing attention to the matter that short of legislation does the most good possible.

    We have a republic, that means we are responsible for our own rule. We don't benefit from murdering ourselves in a republic.

    Scalia told us how it is, we need to change the rules, it's up to us, it's our responsibility.

  • Jimmy 'Crack' Corn||

    +2

  • NordicOnTheEdge||

    "Scalia told us how it is, we need to change the rules..."

    The rub of it is that we DO change the rules, yet those who are charged with enforcing the rules ignore the will of their employers (the people) and do as they want.

    "Los Angeles City Council Votes To Close 80% Of Marijuana Dispensaries"

    http://consumerist.com/2010/01.....aries.html

    "You don't honestly believe any good would come from murdering a bunch of people do you?"

    Often times when faced with growing tyranny and abuse of power by those in power, and when the halls of justice prove fuitless as a result of the greed and corruption of those learned in jurisprudence, just shooting the bastards is the only reasonable course of action.

    Akin to lancing the boil before sespis takes root in the body politic.

    Sadly, it may indeed be too late for such measured action to salvage THIS Republic.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    You don't honestly believe any good would come from murdering a bunch of people do you?


    Why not?

    Threats of murder and violence worked well in preventing Yale University Press from publishing offensive cartoons.

  • ||

    They found a joint in her vehicle so that gives them justification to search her home? WTF? Something ain't right with that.

  • jk||

    Ever notice that police seem indifferent to crimes where there is actually a victim, and are more interested in victimless crimes?

    It totally makes sense in that there is no profit to be made in punishing someone for harming the life, liberty or property of another citizen, but there is profit to be made when a victimless crime has been committed.

    What a perversion of justice.

  • kodiac1221||

    Where's the profit in crimes with victims!! I mean come on, if the mafioso-government cant make a profit they wont ever be able to afford to pay those cushy salaries of their footsoldier-employees

  • ||

    Lots of $ to be made by putting people in prison or on probation. Many jobs in those industries depend on an ever-expanding pool of convicts.

  • Pedro||

    dont all crimes have a victim in the end?

  • ||

    I'm absolutely certain this is a great article. I'm afraid to read it.

  • Leif||

    It's come to this, hasn't it. :-(

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Has any prosecutor ever gone after all the assets of a cop who has been convicted of taking bribes?

    Here in Mpls, we have a "Metro Gang Task Force" that was shut down because they had become so corrupt. Anyone want to take bets on whether local prosecutors will go after all of their assets?

  • SkepticalTexan||

    If you think Smelley's forfeiture is an isolated occurance, pick up a Wall Street Journal any day of the week. There you will find page after page of property subject to forfeiture listed in 4 point font. Public notice requirements for forfeitures by the BATFE, FBI, Treasury, DEA and a few other Federal agencies create a lot of advertising revenue for the WSJ.

    Occasionally, however, the property is proven to be innocent of a crime. My next-door neighbor's mother, an 85-year-old nursing home resident with Alzheimers, had about $25,000 seized when the Feds suspected her of financing terrorists. Her son, a priest in Canada, had her power of attorney and instructed her bank to wire transfer funds to the nursing home in payment for services. Apparently his foreign domicile and unusual name triggered a flag that caused the Feds to seize the transferred funds and freeze her accounts. After a few months, however, the Feds found the money innocent of criminal intent (If that sentence sounds ridiculous, it's only because that's how the Fed's allegation worded.) My neighbors were upset about this to say the least.

    This incident was not all bad, however. As Obama would say, it created a teachable moment. After years of discussing libertarian politics with these Republican-leaning neighbors, they now lean libertarian. As for myself, I've moved from libertarian to anarcho-capitalist. No government is better than this gang of thieves writ large.

  • Xeones||

    The only reason la Cosa Nostra is illegal is because Uncle Sugar don't like competition.

  • TheNino85||

    It's stuff like this that makes me stick around the libertarian movement, despite all the crazies inherent to it. (Hayek is awesome, homeopathy is not.)

    How can anyone possibly vote on this law and not think 5 seconds about the consequences?

  • BakedPenguin||

    It's stuff like this that makes me want to go to law school to become a lawyer who fights this kind of crap.

  • jk||

    Consequences are excuses to write more laws that have consequences that are excuses to write more laws that have consequences that are excuses to write more laws....

    The end result is the complete socialization of society by a totalitarian government.

    So I guess it depends on your point of view. If you're one of those "We are government" types, then you have no reason to consider consequences because they're just annoyances to be taken care of by another law.

    If you believe in individual liberty, you're screwed.

  • Leif||

    Unintended consequences? That's crazy talk!

  • DRATER||

    The kleptocracy lives! Great article; a few of my favorite moments:

    "Under federal law, the federal agency can keep 20 percent or more of the money; the rest, up to 80 percent, goes back to the local police department that conducted the investigation. None of the money in these cases goes to the schools."


    Don't drug dealers use a similar method to launder their money?

    "This is especially true with multijurisdictional drug task forces, some of which have become financially independent of the states, counties, and cities in which they operate, thanks to forfeiture and federal anti-drug grants."
    "When the DEA accuses a doctor of illegally prescribing pain medication, for example, one of the first actions it takes is to freeze his assets for possible forfeiture."
    "The average Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) property seizure in 1998 was worth about $25,000"

    Combine those three facts, and what do you get? A roving band of thieves, financially independent and barely restrained by law, who go after the lowest hanging fruit on the tree. The "drug warriors" won't every really fight the WOD - they can't afford it!

  • CaptainSmartass||

    This is another reason the "War on Drugs" cannot be won: the people tasked with fighting the war are getting fat from the profits it generates.

  • jimmy||

    Did anyone happen to see the face of the opposition to legalizing marijuana in California during debate on AB 390? Law enforcement, law enforcement, and a few government lackeys. Marijuana prohibition is EASY money for law enforcement, the court system (lawyers and government employees), and the prison system. Do these people have no conscience?

  • oaktownadam||

    People involved in the marijuana trade are FAR less likely to shoot back.

  • GaLibertarian||

    Good lord. You would "Smelley" would have changed his name.

  • ||

    Are you questioning my authori-tah?!

  • ||

    Asset forfeiture sans conviction gives incentives to cops and prosecutors to shake down innocent folks.

    Here's one example that really pissed me off.

  • Steven||

    What do you expect in that case, a black guy with pot in his house and money. That is all the evidence you need.

  • Ratko||

    It's not a racial thing, but if you want to make it one let's get real here, Mexicans are far harder hit, they often pool legally earned money with couriers to be carried home for distribution to their families. It's a regular racket seizing that money on it's way back home. They're so used to corruption in government back home they just accept the losses as a fact of life and seldom attempt to recover even when it's tens of thousands of dollars. The authorities know this making it a very sure and easy haul.

    Still it just dilutes the issue when you try to make this crap racial. Injustice is injustice, this crime is one of opportunity, not some kind of damn race based crap. Many of those seizing assets are Blacks and Hispanics themselves and many being victimized are Whites. This lets the air out of race based arguments that serve only to help those committing the wrongs by strengthening division among us.

  • ||

    Makes sense. The fact they they get to bust more colored people is just icing on the authoritah-cake.

  • Nick||

    Wonderful article. I remember Louisiana having an big problem with this as well.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    Wow, I have to admit you do indeed raise some valid points

    RT
    www.online-privacy.int.tc

    Glory and Praise to my Anonymous Lord and Savior, the Anon-Bot!! With Liberty and Anonymity for All!!

    www.online-privacy.int.tc

  • oaktownadam||

    The anon-bot is always polite, you've got to give him that.

  • ||

    On his Agitator blog Radley mentions a very recent Mississippi case in which local police stopped a semi truck and found over $600,000 in cash. First reports indicate that an officer observed erratic driving and pulled the rig over. A drug sniffing dog was brought to the scene and "alerted." This, according to case law, gave the police probable cause to search without a warrant. This, in turn, led to the discovery of the cash stash (no drugs apparently).
    This much cash gives rise to a "presumption" of illegal activity and, if the state chooses to follow civil forfeiture proceedings -- or turn it over to the DEA to start the federal "prize" process -- then the burden will be on any "innocent owner" to come forward with a documented claim to the money. If not, the cash is "condemned" and the the law enforcement agencies share the goodies.
    Once the DEA gives notice of the administrative forfeiture process there is a limited time frame in which claims to the money must be asserted. If they are not, then the money is forfeited without the need for formal in rem court procedures.
    In other words, quick access to competent legal services is vital or innocent owners will find themselves SOL.
    With over half a million dollars in cash in a semi there is not likely to be a credible "innocent owner" claimant. Even so, there may be a basis upon which to challenge the legality of the seizure under the 4th Amendment (slim though it may be). As in criminal cases, illegally seized evidence is not admissible in "quasi-criminal" forfeiture proceedings.

  • Steven||

    With that much money it is pretty obvious that it is drug money, don't you think? If he proves it is his he is OK.

  • jesse||

    Wrong! They should have to prove that it isn't his, not the other way around.

  • jk||

    When charged with a victimless crime, a crime against The State, you are guilty until proven innocent.

  • jesse||

    I understand that this is how it works but i am saying that it is bull shit.

  • jk||

    moral of the story: don't get caught!

  • jesse||

    Oh and fuck the state.

  • Bruce N. Stein||

    I just wanted to write and say thank you for an incredible article. It obviously took a great deal of effort and time to write and I appreciate it tremendously.

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    There is no God but the Anonymity Bot, and Pingback is his prophet.

  • Ratko||

    "The country’s lurch to the political left won’t necessarily mean a greater protection for civil liberties in forfeiture cases."

    Socialist/Communist philosophy is the most materialistic ideology the world has ever known and there's actually some doubt on this? The whole philosophy is based on the idea that stealing from one to give to another is the holy grail that cures all social woes. This should speak quite clearly on it's own.

    The only bigger threat to this republic than the right is the left. Truly a sad situation, one that often leaves me with no option but to side with one tyrant to avoid being even more quickly and thoroughly destroyed by an even bigger tyrant.

    That being said, I'm in agreement with the notion it may very well take this swing to left to get those with more clout having a little taste of the poison themselves before anything will be done on this one. You'd think seeing the illness advance to insane eminent domain seizures would've been enough already, Apparently we aren't bright enough to make that connection.

    What a disgrace our citizens in general know so little about our nation and our bedrock founding documents that it would have to play out like this.

  • ||

    You are right about people needing a taste of their own poison.
    Only then will they understand how terrible their conplacency is.
    The left & the right have their share of these people.
    I guess in many ways it is true that to understand the suffering of another, you must suffer so yourself.

  • ||

    People taste their own poison all the time and don't even know it. How else can you explain the complete lack of anger when people see 30% of their paycheck stolen from them each and every week?

  • ||

    How else can you explain the complete lack of anger when people see 30% of their paycheck stolen from them each and every week?

    There's no lack of anger (cf. Party, Tea, 2009) among those to whom this actually happens. But bear in mind how much more "progressive" our tax system has become over the past 10 years. Only about half the working adults in the country actually pay any significant chunk to the Feds.

  • ||

    I only read the first page and it made me sick.
    Well, maybe some people would reconsider their support for a 'minimal' state that gets to decide what 'justice' is.

  • ||

    And then there is just plain seizure, a.k.a., "rendition for evidence." A couple of years ago, all the silver backing up the Liberty Dollar was seized by the Federal government as "evidence" in its case against the LD principals. That case still drags on while the people who actually OWN the silver, the people who held paper Liberty Dollar notes or their electronic equivalents, must do without their justly acquired property.

    This is an outrage. The government did not need to keep all that silver as evidence. They could have kept some pieces owned by the defendants and used sworn affidavits, photographs, and other records to establish the existence of the evidence in court. Early on, they could have ordered the silver to be returned to those who owned it. But a couple of years down the road, the legitimate owners of the property are still twisting in the wind, with no recourse, except perhaps to sue the government, entailing the expense of legal assistance, not to mention time and effort wasted. I heard a rumor that the government was making plans to AUCTION OFF that "evidence" after holding it for however arbitrarily long suited their purposes.

    Harpers did a story on the Liberty Dollar situation in their January 2010 issue. I'm surprised that Reason hadn't beaten them to the punch. Why doesn't Reason cover this shameful story from a libertarian point of view?

  • Mike T||

    Anyone with a Digg account should vote this up: http://digg.com/political_opin.....ure_Racket

  • Jimmy 'Crack' Corn||

    Come on people, take responsibility for your votes and/or complacency. We put the legislators into office. We did this to ourselves.

  • ||

    lol

  • HeadTater||

    Someone should figure out how to use RICO against the government. The only trouble would be finding a libertarian district attorney (that, my friends, is one of the biggest oxymorons out there).

  • Joe M||

    I shouldn't really be shocked by anything that happens in that great "Land of the Free" of yours but it seems that I can never overestimate the hypocrisy and fundamental lawlessness of the USA. And you have the gall to try and tell other people about human rights and the rule of law.

    Where I live the assets of criminals are also seized - after they have been convicted and the appeals process has been exhausted! In other words, following due process. Some of your police and judiciary, like that fellow in Maricopa County and the prosecutor who destroys kids in order to save them, would be breaking rocks for a living over here instead of being elected over and over again.

    Your public officials, for whom you The People are responsible, seem to take any and all opportunities to debase your laws and to subvert your constitution (for which, by the way, I have the greatest of respect).

    Talk is cheap. When are you Yanks actually going to do something to liberate yourselves.

  • Jennifer L. ||

    In Tennessee, if a husband uses his wife's car to solicit sex from a prostitute, the car can be forfeited even if he is not on the title or if it is an asset acquired as marital property.

  • ||

    Radley, thanks for the time and effort on this. Depressing, but excellent information. Unfortunately, now I'm going to try to go to bed...

    'night, Reason!

  • ||

    there was a time when law enforcement held it's integrity, but throughout, just as many other public office seats, corruption is leading the way by far, so when you see a criminal? look at our public officials at a glance, which is of the far evil? coupled with cops lies on the stand just to get a conviction, it's no wonder why our society is at it's worse, in my opinion

  • ||

    Spare me the "golden age" pap. Law Enforcement is exponentially more professional and better trained than in ANY time of our history. The era of the 60's-80's were rampant with cases of corruption. The "golden age" argument is easy identification of a person who is ignorant of history.

    The "pine for the better days" crap is simply that..crap. There were no "better days" only different days.

  • ||

    Tom, Dear, when you say

    "Law Enforcement is exponentially more professional and better trained..."

    are you suggesting that these days are better than the old days?

  • ||

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpaGuJLRZyI

  • ev||

    Hey, I know Mark Rutherford!

    I did some work for the LP in Indiana and we talked. I wrote an essay/report on the economic damages of enacting a smoking ban and he used several of my arguments when speaking to the legislature.

  • ||

    Please note that without any arrest record and with no clean pipe the outcome would be the same. All the police need is for the dog to react. Since over 80% of all US money has cocaine reside on it, the dog will ALWAYS find drug residue. The money is "arrested" even if the owner is never held. In the United States of America, the police can take your cash money from you anywhere, anytime.

  • Anonymous||

    Perhaps a way for the victims of these abuses of power to get legal representation is to sue the officers, D.A. and jurisdiction for slander/libel as they are making a non-provable claim that the property is the result of, or connected to, a crime and so the individual it is taken from is a criminal. Since they cannot prove the claim of a criminal connection it should be possible to make a valid claim of slander/libel. INAL so I don't know if it would be successful but a multi-million dollar lawsuit for defamation of character or the like is better able to attract a lawyer willing to work for a contengency fee.

    Usually police are protected from lawsuits related to their work but since the victim is not even arrested in most of these situations the slander is not directly related to the officers job but simply an attempt to justify the theft. In the case where the prosecutor is attempting to justify it because it could be used to buy drugs in the future means he is adding another slander that the money's owner is going to attempt to commit that crime in the future without any reasonable means of proving it.

  • ||

    "Perhaps a way for the victims of these abuses of power to get legal representation is to sue the officers, D.A. and jurisdiction for slander/libel "

    That may even work!...in a parallel universe.

  • ||

    This is the type of thing that should be looked on more in the media. Which do you think will get better results writing to the feds or writing to the state.

  • ||

    And so the war on drugs continues to erode our rights and our society itself. If drugs were the problem, the problem could be solved in a reasonable amount of time for a reasonable cost. Leave all the laws regarding drugs on the books, with a new exception. Create government funded drug dispensaries with free drugs for any one wanting them. They have to be consumed on the premises. The consumer cannot drive to or from the dispensary. Thats it. However, I don't think stopping drugs is the goal. I think all the anti-drug initiatives are to support the pursuit of power and money coveted by governments and those in private industry selling to them.

  • ||

    1) never carry large amounts of cash,wire it ahead.
    2)Use pay as you go credit cards with low limits like $500.
    3)Drive a well kept vehicle.Inspect it every day.keep spare light and tools to change them in trunk.Keep car clean inside and out.
    4)Dress average, don't look poor,but not rich either.
    5)Try not to travel at night,at least 9 PM, before the drunks hit the road.
    6)If traffic slows,take a hint and stay in line,all it might take is for a state police to see you pull out and around to get you pulled over.
    7)When stopping for anything, keep you attitude in check, the locals might call the cops just because you were loud etc...and 50 miles later how would you know who call the cops?
    8)Quiet,but cheerful goes along way.

    Yours truly has driven the roads for 20 yrs.Live and learn.

  • ||

    You'd think we'd living under a fucking police state.

  • Leif||

    Much of your advice seems taken from a lawless society where one must beware of brigands. Hmm.

  • ||

    If you are one of those people who like to pay cash for everything, then it would behoove you to get a storage box mounted to your car frame that has a stout lock on it. Then put your cash in there.
    And always refuse a search when pulled over, it never benefits you.

  • ||

    Amen to that. NEVER consent to a search even though the price may be a traffic ticket instead of a warning.

  • Edwin||

    OK - these asset forfeiture laws are stupid and unconstitutional - but the first story CLEARLY does actually involve drugs. Nobody smokes tobacco out of a glass pipe - and just because tests on the pipe don't show drugs, doesn't mean the drug dog was wrong. There may not be any drugs directly on the pipe itself, but you can bet your ass the dog can smell those lingering odors from other things in the car or the interior of the car itself.

    You're not going to convince the general public that a law is repeatedly being abused by picking the examples where it is indeed used for its intended purpose (hindering drug trafficking). Great job, Reason.

  • The Foreclosure Racket||

    It's not just the government. Private corporations will also seize property if given the chance.

    blog.onthecommons.us/?p=49

    Last year, [HOA attorney Tom] Newton, who was working for another homeowners association, foreclosed on an elderly disabled couple, Dan and Elaine lambert, because they hadn’t paid $380 in HOA fees.

    At the time he said he felt justified in foreclosing on struggling homeowners who are only a few hundred dollars behind on their HOA dues.

    “I feel comfortable in taking those steps necessary to enforce my client’s legal rights,” said Newton at the time. “And if that means that ultimately somebody may go through this foreclosure process, it is unfortunate. But it is a consequence of their own making.”

    abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=123915

    In some states, homeowners association can take away residents' houses if they do not abide by the association's rules.

    Winona Blevins, an elderly widow who lived in a planned community in Houston called Champions, was astonished when a constable came to her door one morning and told her he had a court order to evict her.

    It turned out that the homeowners association had sold the house out from under her because she owed $876 in dues. Blevins says she didn't even know her home had been sold: "I had no inkling. Absolutely no idea. None."

    Blevins had paid cash for her home and had lived there for 15 years. But the homeowners association says she ignored notices they sent telling her she was behind with her dues. But apparently many of the notices had been wrongly addressed to her long deceased husband, who had never even lived in the house.

    Blevins says mail did come to her house addressed to her husband, but she threw it away thinking it was junk mail. She says no one from the community association ever called her or came to her home to tell her there was a problem. Instead, the board turned the matter over to their attorneys, who tacked on thousands of dollars in legal fees and recommended foreclosing on the home to collect.

    The association sold Blevins' home at public auction without her knowledge, then had constables evict her with no notice. "They took everything. They said I could take one change of clothing, one. And they took everything else. Everything," she remembers.

  • Driver X||

    www.npr.org/templates/story/st.....d=91856663 "Dirty Money: Asset Seizures and Forfeitures"

    www.npr.org/templates/story/st.....d=91582619 (part 3 of 4)

    Deputy Has Midas Touch in Asset Seizures
    by John Burnett
    Listen Now [7 min 44 sec]
    Third installment of a four-part series
    All Things Considered, June 17, 2008

    Chief Deputy Eddie Ingram is a devout believer in highway traffic stops... When drivers are stopped for moving violations, they shouldn't be treated simply as speeders — they should be regarded as possible felons.

    [snip]

    But it's the money couriers who have made Ingram famous in law enforcement circles across the South. He calculates that he and the officers he has supervised have discovered more than $11 million in drug assets in the past 15 years. Much like the rules for treasure hunters, police agencies that make a seizure can keep up to 80 percent of it, and many police agencies have grown to rely on confiscated drug money.

    "If you get money, God bless America," Ingram says. "It's a wonderful thing. Taking drug money and using it for the good that the taxpayers don't have to pay is the best thing in the world. But that ain't what our sole purpose in life is. If all I wanted to do was get money, I know how to get out there and get all the money I want."

    [snip]

    Stress-induced Indicators

    Later, Ingram climbs into his white Ford Crown Victoria and heads out
    onto U.S. Highway 431 — the main north-south thoroughfare through
    Barbour County.

    "I look for things that just are different, and there's no one way to
    explain it, there's no one indicator. I just look for people that try
    to fit in that make themselves stand out," he says.

    Without giving away his secrets, here's one thing Ingram looks for: If
    the speed limit is 65 mph, most people will drive 75 mph. But someone
    wanted by the law will go 65 or less, and avoid eye contact with a cop
    who pulls up alongside. Ingram calls them "stress-induced indicators."

    [snip]

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I do not oppose asset forfeiture in principle, as long as the state has the burden of proof with a preponderance of evidence.

  • ||

    There was a time when the people of France grew quite discontented with how their country was being run. Finally, they all decided to come together and 'take care of business' themselves. Their sentiments were appreciated even by the national military, who ended up joining with the people, and...voila! It worked!

  • ||

    One of the things defendants should be attacking are the dogs. Blind testing shows dogs aren't reacting to the smell of drugs, they're reacting in anticipation of their master's pleasure. Assuming dogs do things for human reasons is foolish. Dogs do things for dog reasons, like pleasing the pack alpha.

  • ||

    Most property and business owners that defend their assets against Government Civil Forfeiture claim an “innocent owner defense.” This defense can become a criminal prosecution trap for both guilty and innocent property owners. Any fresh denial to the government when questioned about committing a crime “even when you did not do it” can “involuntarily waive” your right to assert in your defense—the “Criminal Statute of Limitations” has passed for prosecution. Any fresh denial of guild, even 30 years after a crime was committed may allow Government prosecutors to use old and new evidence, including information discovered during a Civil Asset Forfeiture Proceeding to launch a criminal prosecution. For that reason many innocent property and business owners are reluctant to defend their property and businesses from Government Civil Asset Forfeiture. Re: waiving Criminal Statute of Limitations: see USC18, Sec.1001, James Brogan V. United States. N0.96-1579.

    There are over 200 U.S. laws and violations mentioned in the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 and the Patriot Act that can subject property to civil asset forfeiture. Under federal civil forfeiture laws, a person or business need not be charged with a crime for government to forfeit their property. In the U.S. private security companies and their operatives work so closely with law enforcement to forfeit property—providing intelligence information, they appear to merge with police.

    Under the USA Patriot Act, witnesses can be kept hidden while being paid part of the assets they cause to be forfeited. The Patriot Act specifically mentions using Title 18USC asset forfeiture laws: those laws include a provision in Rep. Henry Hyde’s 2000 bill HR 1658—for “retroactive civil asset forfeiture” of “assets already subject to government forfeiture”, meaning "property already tainted by crime" provided “the property” was already part of or “later connected” to a criminal investigation in progress" when HR.1658 passed. That can apply to more than two hundred federal laws and violations.

    Just recently Obama signed Executive Order EO 12425 that included authorizing INTERPOL to act within the United States without being subject to 4th Amendment Search and Seizure." Obama’s executive order will allow U.S. police to circumvent the Fourth Amendment by working with INTERPOL in criminal and Civil Asset Forfeiture investigations. After the Patriot Act passed, several European Countries entered into Asset Forfeiture Sharing Agreements with the U.S. It is problematic INTERPOL working with U.S. law enforcement and private government contractors will want access to telecom/NSA and other government wiretaps perhaps illegal, to secure evidence to arrest Americans and or civilly forfeit their homes, inheritances, intellectual property and businesses under Title 18USC and other laws. Thanks to Obama, U.S. Police can now use INTERPOL to circumvent the Fourth Amendment to share in assets seized from Americans.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...in order to really get the Books of the Bible, you have to cultivate such a mindset, it's literally a labyrinth, that's no joke.

  • omega||

    Just recently Obama signed Executive Order EO 12425 that included authorizing INTERPOL to act within the United States without being subject to 4th Amendment Search and Seizure." Obama’s executive order will allow U.S. police to circumvent the Fourth Amendment by working with INTERPOL in criminal and Civil Asset Forfeiture investigations. After the Patriot Act passed, several European Countries entered into Asset Forfeiture Sharing Agreements with the U.S. It is problematic INTERPOL working with U.S. law enforcement and private government contractors will want access to telecom/NSA and other government wiretaps perhaps illegal, to secure evidence to arrest Americans and or civilly forfeit their homes, inheritances, intellectual property and businesses under Title 18USC andreplica omega other laws. Thanks to Obama, U.S. Police can now use INTERPOL to circumvent the Fourth Amendment to share in assets seized from Americans.

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    Nice posting!
    I read the whole story, and I became interested of it. Nice news story shared.
    I just felt pity to the innocent Anthony Smelley and his friend. I am just sad to know that these incidences are quite usual. How do the police solve this kind of case? They keep on keeping such action, but, how about those people like them that are innocent. People may think and judge them negatively.

  • ||

    I see that a lot of people here have read this article as:
    1. cops steal money
    2. cops work for the government
    3. therefore the government steals money
    4. since the government steals money we should abolish the government

    IMHO, if we abolish or make smaller the government, these activities are going to get WORSE not better. The reason? Because the activities you see happening here are the result of a government not being able to properly fund and regulate their police force, and so the force starts to act as its own private entity.

    The cops aren't acting as agents of the government by doing its nefarious bidding. They are acting as free agents, exploiting the power given to them to maximize their own gain.

    I say thank the gods for our government, because it provides us the only civilized method to remedy the issue.

    I think it's time we realize that cops are not "the defenders of truth and justice" and I think it's time that we stop lavishing them with un-due praise and respect. It's gotten to the point where they are acting like nothing more than bullies and thieves. If that's how they want to act, that should be how they are treated.

    Lastly, after reading this article, I for one am going to send a letter of concern to the ACLU.

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  • Hans Anders||

    Sad that these things happen. But always there will be innocent people convicted and guilty people that walk.

  • Kroon||

    No comment

  • incomeathome||

    Really cool article. I read the first page and going to come back to read the rest. My launch break ended. Thank you.

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    POST only learn the initial page plus it produced me personally ill.
    Good, driving Car perhaps a lot of people would reconsider its service for any 'minimal' state which reaches decide just what 'justice' is actually.wolves gray

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    What greater example of arbitrary government is needed than to prosecute receivers of stolen goods as crimes what law enforcement does with impunity under theory of excuse.

    Arbitrary enforcement of laws has always been considered the death toll of legitimacy in any kind of government. It simply doesn't work for government to be allowed to steal what others by law cannot.

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  • Stay in Istanbul||

    In this awesome scheme of things you actually secure an A for effort. Where you confused me personally ended up being on your specifics. As it is said, details make or break the argument.. And that could not be much more correct here. Having said that, let me say to you what did deliver the results. The writing is highly powerful and this is most likely why I am taking the effort to opine. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. 2nd, while I can easily notice the jumps in reasoning you come up with, I am not necessarily sure of how you seem to connect the details which in turn make the actual conclusion. For right now I will, no doubt yield to your issue but trust in the future you actually link your facts better.

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    It's pretty crazy that they took his money and didn't charge him for a crime. States are only going to get more desperate in the future.

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