Feds Have Seized More Than $2 Billion From Travelers at Airports
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
A new report from the Institute for Justice found that the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border patrol, among other agencies, seized more than $2 billion from travelers at U.S. airports between 2000 and 2016.
“[M]ore than three-quarters of those seizures were of cash,” the report says, “an asset that can be quickly and easily deposited into government forfeiture accounts.”
Most of the seizures are for failing to fill out the proper paperwork – though very few seizures are followed-up with arrests:
Over two-thirds of all cases involving currency seized at airports were not accompanied by an arrest.
Arrests were even rarer for reporting violations: Just one in 10 cases involving a reporting violation was accompanied by an arrest. Many such cases were likely mere paperwork violations without any other indication of criminal activity. Indeed, when a reporting violation was alleged, a second offense—such as drug trafficking or money laundering—was alleged only 0.3% of the time.
The Institute notes that 93 percent of the money seized was done so under civil asset forfeiture, “without any judicial oversight.”
“It took an average of 193 days for currency to be [returned] after it was seized, leaving property owners in legal limbo for an average of more than six months— and up to 15 years.”
The Institute says civil asset forfeiture is needed to correct current abuses and to ensure that seizures are only made when law enforcement has “substantial evidence that a person is intentionally committing a crime and the property is linked to that crime.”
Image Credit: By xlibber (Another Airplane!) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons