Saturday, August 19, 2006

Drug Money?

I heard somewhere a while back that some amazing percentage- I forget just what the percentage was- of currency in this country tests positive for cocaine. I can't help but think that's just another urban legend, but this Sacramento Bee story on some confiscated drug money got me to thinking about that again. Use humboldtlib for username and blogspot for password, if asked to log in.

Apparently yet another guy gets arrested and has a large amount of cash seized, simply because a drug dog detected the scent of drugs on both his money and the ice chest the money was in. One federal judge ruled that just because the money and ice chest had drug odors wasn't enough to link the money to drug activity. The eighth circuit court overuled his ruling with one judge dissenting.

I'll be the first to admit, from the newspaper account, the guy's story sounds a bit tough to swallow and you can't help believe he might well have been in the drug business. I can't imagine someone carrying around that much money to go buy something. If he was in a "legitimate business", I would almost think he'd have to have some kind of credit card, or at least some bank that took care of purchases like he was supposedly making.

That said, this confiscating money from people just because they can't come up with a normal explanation of it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I remember watching one of those COPS type shows. I believe it was Real Stories of the Highway Patrol.

A black guy gets pulled over for some traffic violation in, I believe, Arizona. The cop talks him into letting him search the vehicle. The cop finds some ten thousand or so dollars in the glove box. The cop tells they guy they're taking the money as it is presumed to be drug money.

I forget the guy's excuse for having the money. I don't believe he said much. He just looked like there was nothing he could do and like he was getting shaken down. I believe they let him go but took the money. What happened after that, I don't know.

I don't like that. I don't think any of us should be comfortable with it. There should be a little more involved in taking someone's money than a cop just saying it was probably used in the drug business.

But this is one of those increasing signs of the police state we're living in and it's likely to get worse before it gets any better. Assuming it gets better at all.


At 1:36 PM, Blogger Heraldo said...

I read about that guy, and if I remember correctly the cops/courts kept all or most of his money even though he wasn't convicted. The journal had an article about it a few months ago.

You said: If he was in a "legitimate business", I would almost think he'd have to have some kind of credit card, or at least some bank that took care of purchases like he was supposedly making.

Maybe, but isn't it suspicious that unless a bank is keeping track of all of your transactions (the record of which is easily obtainable by theives, government or otherwise) you are seen as not "legitimate."

There was a man from Texas who paid off his credit card faster than his usual payments, and that caught the attention of feds who started this investigation. He was just going on vacation with his wife and wanted to take care of some of the debt before he left, and that was enough to make him into some kind of terrorist.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Heraldo said...

Here is the story from the Journal, called Search and seizure
Garberville man beats feds, Wyoming state troopers

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Fred said...

"but isn't it suspicious that unless a bank is keeping track of all of your transactions (the record of which is easily obtainable by theives, government or otherwise) you are seen as not "legitimate.".

Agreed. Thing is, even the paranoids end up realizing, if they want to do "legitimate business", they need to get with the system.

I have a friend who never carried credit cards. I don't think he even had a checking account, although I can't imagine he didn't have some kind of bank account. He was an LP candidate for State Assembly at one time, as a matter of fact.

He didn't deal with the bank accounts because he was paranoid about someone keeping track of his financial activities. I say "paranoid" because he didn't do anything that anyone would care about, as far as his financial dealings.

Anyway, he finally started up a construction company and it wasn't long after he had everything; checks, credit cards and numerous bank accounts.

There's no way he could do what he does without all those, if for no other reason than everyone else uses those same things. One of those cases where if he wanted to deal with the crowd, he literally had to join the crowd.

At 5:15 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Fred, I fully agree with your concern. When we sold our ranch in Weitchpec, the buyer paid a substantial portion in cash ($100.00s and $50.00s)for reasons we did not ask. As a result, we transported far more than $10,000.00 in banknotes across the country in the back of our pickup. I shudder to think of how many of those banknotes had "drug residue" on them. Fortunately we did not attract the attention of government vultures.


At 7:10 PM, Blogger FaulknA said...

I don't believe that law enforcement should be able to take your money just because it doesn't look like you got it legitimately. I think that's bullshit. I don't have a bank account or credit cards and have sometimes carried over of $3,000 that I saved from jobs. Should they have the right to take that? What's the limit you can carry without worrying that some fool small-town cop will take it away from you?

At 8:18 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Who is to decide how you acquired it? The fact that your property can be taken without due process is evidence enough that we have already journeyed far down the road to serfdom.

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of the above are uniformed, or morons, or ?

Serfdom? you need less 215 and more vitamins!

Faulkna, generally speaking (without other factors) $24,999.00.

Gee you sold your ranch and took in $10k in 100's and 50' and didn't ask about it ? You didn't have to ask cause you knew it was drug money. But you didn't care as long as you got your money, right?

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Pogo said...

11:21: By your "rationale" the Kennedy fortune (which we all "know" to have been acquired illicitly through bootlegging and crime) should be seized by the government? Also, if you live in Humboldt County you should be aware that a substantial part of the economy is driven by the "clandestine" farming sector. Are the merchants refusing to sell goods to the long haired, unwashed cultivators of cannabis? I don't think so.

At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Pogostick. Think of what the Kennedy fortune has really done for us? We have Teddy! What a prize he is. A drunk with family money to get and keep him in office !! We're still paying for that one.

And Pogostick I am very aware of the local economy driven by the "clandestine farming section". Such a nice way of putting it. I would say dope grower or drug dealer. Let's call it as it is.

And as we (from Humboldt County) all know many, or most, of the growers are not long haired unwashed hippies. Easy money has corrupted beyond the "hippie".

And Pogostick you are absolutly right. The merchants are not refusing to sell to the growers. Many make a business out of selling various products to the scum sucking growers. That in turn makes them part of the entire problem.

The scum sucking growers view themselves as celebrities, above the law. It is amazing.

Are you a clandestine farmer POGO?

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Pogo said...

Nope anonymousgauleiter9:19. Pogo is not and has never been a "clandestine" farmer. He has however known a few and they lacked your arrogance.

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I guess that's good to know Pogo.

So you know a few "clandestine " farmers and they lack my arrogance. They also lack other things like character, moral fiber, honesty, a legitamate job or income.

Arrogance ? Not really, well kind of. Factual and opinionated ?

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The government should never be allowed to seize money or property on suspicion of guilt.

We are supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The seizure of money, vehicles, property, including airplanes and yachts on the presumption of guilt, without being proven is contrary to everything our country and our laws stand for.

Taking the cars of suspected Johns, money from random travelers, and property from suspected drug dealers, if allowed until the trial is successful in proving them guilty is one thing, but if the trial fails, the property should be returned, with interest if applicable, and restitution if necessary.


At 4:27 PM, Blogger Pogo said...

Opinionated? Yes. Factual? You haven't presented any yet.

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excuse me PogoStick I thought you could read

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Don't the cops (gov) have to seize evidence to prosecute the casse? How can the gov prosecute without seizing evidence first ?

And do you really think that if the gov told a crook that they were going to seize his money or boat or car that the crook would hang onto it, or even keep it in his own name ? If you really think that you're really an idiot! I mean really!

If the laws were more strict and the cops could reqire you to prove where the money came from it would be a GIANT step to getting control over drug dealers. Take away the profit and no one would deal drugs.

You can't expect a normal person to think that someone in this day and age would carry around thirty or forty thousdand dollars because "THEY DON'T TRUST BANKS". Oh come now. some crooks will take the chance on prison or jail for staling $200 bucks ! If a crook knew that you had $10,000 in cash you would have a big ass bullseye on you back and there be lots of incentive to rob you.

The reason people carry or keep large sums of cash is because they are going to do something wrong, they just did something wrong, or they are trying to hide the money they made from doing something wrong.

At 8:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you could say that the PRIMARY reason people carry or keep large sums of cash is because they are going to do something wrong, they just did something wrong, or they are trying to hide the money they made from doing something wrong.

BUT, the way you worded it you presume that EVERYONE is the same and everyone is guilty and there are no circumstances under which an honest person has a right to carry cash.

The cases that make the news often involve far less than $10,000.

I believe in presumed innocence.

No question those drug lords deserve whatever they get, but no matter what law you pass, you should always consider what happens when that law is applied to an INNOCENT person.

MOST people are good, decent and law abiding, and we pay the price for those who are not in many many ways.

I say, punish the people who ARE doing wrong, and leave the good people alone.


At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because if you take the $10,000 or $100,000 away from the one honest person who truly doesn't trust banks, or for whatever reason happens to have that money legitimately, just like if you execute an innocent man, then something is very wrong.

Presumption of innocence.
And punish the guilty.


At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You must be one of them thar clandestine farmers?

Just because the Gov takes the money doesn't mean it's a done deal. There is a legal process, and you know it!

Pusish the guilty, but how can they if you can't seize the evidence, sounds really groovey ..... idiot!

At 9:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think most cash seizures are less than $10,000.00 and usually, in fact almost always, there are drugs seized with the money. And of course just because a person is selling drugs and has a large amount of cash, mostly in twenty dollar bills, the money is probably his savings from working as a clerk at Circle K. RIGHT.

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No question. I did mention above that I did not necessarily have a problem if the property seized was returned if no conviction was obtained.

But the cases brought to light on 60 Minutes and other news programs show us that it is not always drug dealers whose property is seized. Sometimes it is an innocent driver, in a routine traffic stop. In some cities it is 'suspected' johns. And in many cases no charges are even filed, mush less a conviction obtained.

In one case, a man's airplane was seized. It was his livelihood. Even after he was found innocent or acquitted, or the charges were dropped, or no charges were filed, I forget which, they kept it, and his life, his business was ruined. Years later his attempts to get an apology and restitution of his property were still ongoing.

That shouldn't happen.

And no, I am not a grower, Far, far, far from it.

At 10:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe that an innocent person ever lost their money or property. Property or money may have been taken as part of some investigation but not kept, like forever. Not in California or probably anywhere America. Too many checks and balances. Too many liberal attorneys to go to bat against the cops. Maybe the "victims" never claimed the property? No matter how much you hate or dislike the gov or the cops these things don't happen.

And do you beleive everything on 60 minutes ? Remember Dan Rather?

At 1:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Point well made.


At 5:31 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Those concerned about asset forfeiture should be sure and check out the Forfeiture Endangers American Rights web page:

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Fred said...

By seeming coincidence, Radley Balko commented on Gonzalez case this morning on his blog:

He doesn't allow comments, though.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That site you gave has alot of stories, Fred.

One story,
According to Giuffre, Somerset County Chief of Detectives Richard Thornberg presented him with deeds to two building lots Giuffre owned in Hunterdon County. Thornberg told Giuffre that if he signed the lots over to the county and did a short stint as an "informant," that the criminal charges against him would be dismissed. He was also told that if he refused to accept this deal, the lots, his Warren, NJ residence and all his bank accounts would be forfeited, and he would be imprisoned for 10 years on second-degree drug charges. In his suit, Giuffre stated that he took Thornberg's deal under duress....

and another:
In the early 90's, both he and his wife were charged criminally by the State, had their home and business seized by the feds, and were forced to pay $18,000.00 to the state franchise tax board. The way he explained it to me was that the franchise tax board insisted that he owed them tax money for the illegal act for which he was charged.

For two years, his business was closed and he and his wife negotiated their sentencing and forfeiture situation. Eventually, he bought back his business and his home, paying over $100,000 MORE to buy it back from the government than he had orginally paid for the property. Plus, he took a variable mortgage, and his house payments have now doubled. He was convicted criminally, but I believe he did not serve much time....

The site has the full stories. Interesting stuff.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel soooo bad for these people.

At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The system generally works. Then there is Abuse.

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 5:15 PM, ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...
When we sold our ranch in Weitchpec, the buyer paid a substantial portion in cash ($100.00s and $50.00s)for reasons we did not ask. As a result, we transported far more than $10,000.00 in banknotes across the country in the back of our pickup.

Did you report this over 10K transaction to the IRS as legally required? Probably not. Do you think that the guy got the money lawfully? Probably not.

Asset forfieture is not criminal it is civil. Just like any civil case, (personal injury, contracts etc.) you have to PROVE the case by a preponderance of the evidence submitted. If the person got the money lawfully (ie. had a job, paid taxes, inherited it from aunt mabel or got it at the casino) all he had to do is put forward any evidence of that and he could get the money back. That is how simple it is. The problem with these folks is that they are doing things illegally, benefitting from their illegal acts to the extent that the normal working Joe can't even imagine and they are not paying taxes at all on it.

Fred - it doesn't bother me at all if a drug dealer gets his toys taken away from his ill gotten proceeds. Or the bank robber loses his booty. If you acquired it lawfully, then its not really a problem.

At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Police State We're Living In" ? Fred ! How can you say that ? Can you qualify that?

Do you really know about the laws or rules for seizing money ? You make it sound like any cop can take your money for little or no reason at any time. Have you read the law ? Do you know the penal code section ?

It seems like you are teaming up with Hearaldo?

At 8:56 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I suppose different people have different definitions of a "Police State".

Yes, I do know a little about asset forfeiture law. A little.

I don't know that I'm "teaming up with Heraldo". Libertarians often have common issues with both the Left and Right.

I'll see if I can post something today on the "Police State".

At 6:50 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

The ranch sale was NOT a drug deal. The sale was reported to both Humboldt County and IRS. The Capital Gains exemption applied. As has been reported elsewhere, a substantial percentage of old US banknotes would test positive for drugs although we have never been involved in any drug transaction.

At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easy for me to be against asset forfeiture, but when the rubber hits the road, as in, when the meth dealers moved onto my street, I sure want that asset forfeiture law to hang over the homeowners head.

At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well you can't have it OK for marijauana growers but not for crankers.


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