Civil asset forfeiture makes FBI and county sheriff into highway robbers
We’ve written before about civil asset forfeiture and how it creates powerful incentives for government and law enforcement to trample basic constitutional rights.
Or, in this story out of California, how it created an incentive for law enforcement to literally become highway robbers…not to mention opening a new front in the old and busted drug war:
The driver of an armored car carrying $712,000 in cash from licensed marijuana dispensaries was heading into Barstow on a Mojave Desert freeway in November when San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies pulled him over. They interrogated him, seized the money and turned it over to the FBI.
A few weeks later, deputies stopped the same driver in Rancho Cucamonga, took an additional $350,000 belonging to legal pot stores and gave that cash to the FBI too.
Now, the FBI is trying to confiscate the nearly $1.1-million bounty, which it might share with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. The FBI says the money is tied to federal drug or money-laundering crimes, but has specified no unlawful conduct and charged no one with a crime.
The cash seizures — and another from the same trucking company in Kansas — raise questions about whether the Justice Department under President Biden is moving to disrupt the operations of licensed marijuana businesses in California and other states where pot is legal.
The case has also rekindled allegations that federal law enforcement agencies in Southern California have been abusing forfeiture laws by seizing cash and valuables from people when the government has no evidence that they committed crimes.
This isn’t law enforcement. It’s a racket. And on top of it, there’s the overwhelming scent of the drug war attached to the seizures. Except here, it’s a war against legal businesses.
That’s not just wrong, it’s also immoral. Both are to be expected when the state has an incentive to steal.