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Legal bandits (Updated)

Via Radley Balko comes this excellent asset forfeiture cash stealing investigation by News 5 in Nashville.

Again, this isn’t a surprise to us, but as evidenced by the anchors at the end of this segment, most of the population is not aware that this kind of thing goes on in this country.

Update: More from the News 5 investigation:

Questionable Traffic Stops Caught On Camera

In this one, the News 5 helicopter team tracked a police car that pulled over two Hispanic men with Texas plates supposedly for weaving on the road, yet the News 5 helicopter video showed that the car wasn’t weaving at all. The news investigation team covers the line between persuading someone to consent to a search and tricking them. Very good piece.

Video Shows Officer Offering Truckers Freedom For Cash

Cops searched the truck and couldn’t find anything, but felt that something was there, so they threatened the truck drivers with prosecution unless they gave up the cash, despite the fact that there was nothing they could charge the drivers with.

News 5 reporter: “If I have not committed a crime, is it proper for a police officer to make me think that I have?”

District Attorney General Kim Helper: [pause] I believe… that officer can use a variety of techniques…

There are more videos and stories connected to this investigation, including extended interviews and traffic stop videos.

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32 comments to Legal bandits (Updated)

  • C.E.

    I know another way to make drug trafficking unprofitable for foreign drug gangs. . . .

  • Bruce

    Wheres the money? LOL
    I see PO’d truckerGuy taking out the pretty little FEDmob flashylight welfare-cut funded dinkytoy cars like bowling pins with his 70mph semi. This has gotten so surreal, and disgraceful. Tick tock tick tock BONG

  • Billie Budd

    How any sentient being can watch this and not be outraged is beyond me. And since you need not be charged with anything, what prevents them from just impounding your new car on suspicion that you bought it with drug money???
    This is worse than anything in a so-called Third World and should be sent to every member of Congress..(they’re on the take too, but at least it’ll be on the record..)
    Any chance of seeing Part 2??

    • See updated post. Lots of good stuff.

      • Billie Budd

        Thanks, Pete…that DA was pirouetting around like the Hippos in Fantasia.
        Now we wait for a gun battle to erupt between rival police units over the money…that I want to see…

  • TheonlywayisStockport

    And legal practitioners of genocide:

    At the most superficial level the destruction of Mexican and Central American societies – encompassing over 100 million people – is a result of a conflict between drug cartels and the political regimes of the region. At a deeper level there is a multiplier or “ripple effect” related to their collaboration: the cartels draw on the support of the US banks to realize their profits; they spend hundreds of millions on the US arms industry and others to secure their supplies, transport and markets; they employ tens of thousands of recruits for their vast private armies and civilian networks and they purchase the compliance of political and military officials on both sides of the borders

    For its part, the Mexican government acts as a conduit for US Pentagon/Federal police, Homeland Security, drug enforcement and political apparatuses prosecuting the ‘war’, which has put Mexican lives, property and security at risk. The White House stands at the strategic center of operations – the Mexican regime serves as the front-line executioners.

    On one side of the “war on drugs” are the major Wall Street banks; on the other side, the White House and its imperial military strategists and in the ‘middle’ are 90 million Mexicans and 40,000 murder victims and counting.

    Relying on political fraud to impose economic deregulation in the 1990’s (neo-liberalism), the US policies led directly to the social disintegration, criminalization and militarization of the current decade. The sophisticated narco-finance economy has now become the most advanced stage of neo-liberalism. When the respectable become criminals, the criminals become respectable.

    The issue of genocide in Mexico has been determined by the empire and its “knowing” bankers and cynical rulers.

    http://tinyurl.com/3dzmbmt

  • Cannabis

    Who else besides Americans for Forfeiture Reform is working on fixing this problem?

  • Steve

    Anchor: “Most people don’t know the police can pull you over to search for money.”

    It would have been nice if the anchor also said, “If you are pulled over and an officer asks if he may search your vehicle, you have a right to refuse, as guaranteed by the Constitution.”

    How much money would the police miss out on then?

    • Just Legalize It

      “How much money would the police miss out on then?”

      Not much. They would get a K9 unit and say the dog hinted at something illegal(even when it didn’t at all) and search based on that.

      • old hemp

        I can’t wait until a jury of your peers is composed of canines. I want border collies cause they’re smart and would never convict me.

  • tintguy

    America’s finest, huh? What kind of depraved individuals carry out these deeds? You’re sworn to uphold the law and let them send you out on missions like this? I would be so disgusted at the suggestion I wouldn’t be able to continue with such a department.

  • Dante

    I have a silly (but fun) idea:

    Since the police are confiscating tons of cash that they claim is the proceeds of drug deals, it’s dirty.

    Then, after the police seize this “dirty” cash, they spend it on cars and guns and tanks and swift boats, etc.

    Then, the DEA shows up and CONFISCATES ALL OF IT!!! Because all that stuff is the proceeds of drug deals, you know. It’s dirty. Bad cop, no SUV.

    Ha Ha.

  • Maria

    This is state sponsored extortion, plain and simple. No honest man can explain it as anything else. They are coercing innocent drivers into giving something of theirs up by the way of intimidation and threats. Their force and threat is implicit by their badge and gun. In other worlds this would be called highway robbery.

    Of course, prosecuting it would mean that there is actually some sort of rule of law in this country to which all it’s citizens are held to and none are exempt from. Haha.

    Ha.

    • old hemp

      if it lies like a gang, and it shoots like a gang, and it loots like a gang, no ammount of legalizing can turn it into the Vienna Boy’s Choir.

  • divadab

    Prohibition makes racketeers of the police. It corrupts everything it touches.

    END PROHIBITION!

  • darkcycle

    Drug mules should adopt the same technology as the police. Videos hard mounted and satellite uplinked so the recordings are protected. Then the cartel lawyers could see about getting all that money returned after all those bad stops.
    ‘Course the rest of us will just have our money stolen.

    • tintguy

      That’s just it though. It seems that they don’t give a flying rat’s ass who they’re taking it from they just take whatever from whoever and the innocent are supposed to just pay someone else to try to get it back. Like I said; how do these people allow themselves to be sent out on these missions after swearing to uphold the law

      And whatever happened to the concept that it’s better to let a hundred guilty to go free than to let one innocent be condemed?

  • denmark

    ……. 10 Rules For Dealing with Police …….

  • David Marsh

    Thanks Pete…. Serious setback in by efforts to reduce my blood pressure. “probable cause” standard for seizure with magistrate warrant. “Probable cause” standard for seizure without warrant with exigent circumstances. “Presumption” of cash in close proximity was proceeds from the illegal activity or used to facilitate the illegal activity. Iowa Code 809A…. Justice Department forfeiture fund went from $27 million in 1985 to $3.1 Billion in 2008. Less than 20% of all people who suffered forfeitures were ever prosecuted.(Radley Balko – Reason Mag – Feb 2010)

    • darkcycle

      Yep, theft, simple and plain as it could be. Right there with minimal pretense and no efforts made to hide at all. Yet where is this? Some local Tenn. station’s investigative reports. (KUDOS to that station, BTW. The stations around here would NEVER air this, preferring instead to focus on misappropriation of funds from animal control, or something with which to taint a local service provider. They only go for safe stories or those that reflect poorly on social services). Yep, we’re a FOX market up here.

  • warren

    Pigs will be pigs as long as there is easy prey [mellow mj smokers] and big easy/ not their drug money.

  • kaptinemo

    Long ago in Merry Olde England, there were ‘highwaymen’ who’d waylay you on the roads and demand that you “Stand and deliver!” your possessions or face death. Of course, these were criminals.

    Today, the modern day ‘highwaymen’ wear taxpayer-supplied uniforms and badges, and carry taxpayer-supplied weapons…to rob said taxpayers. After the taxpayers have already been robbed by The State.

    Of course, they’re criminals, too. Criminals with badges. State-sanctioned criminals. All thanks to the morally corrupting influence of the War on (Some) Drugs, and the misdirected desire to protect children from adult vices.

    The pavement on that Road to Hell’s gotten pretty hot lately, hasn’t it?

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .
      I’ve heard that Mr. Lucifer got some of the Obama stimulus money and is building a new Highway to Hell to accommodate the huge influx of banksters and Wall Street professionals. I often suggest to Know Nothing prohibitionist that they can make some money and put their good intentions to to their only practical use by selling them to Mr. Lucifer for paving material.

  • palemalemarcher

    Where is the US justice department?! Are they too busy jawboning newspaper editors? It goes to show of a tepid job performance to staunching these abuses. Its easy to hide behind the malfeasance of the other party. I ask again!!

    • daniel

      They are too busy writing letters and raiding dispensaries.

    • darkcycle

      Why would the J.D get involved?…these thefts are perfectly legal as far as they and the courts are concerned. That’s the point. ANYBODY else does this and they face a very long prison term at the hands of these same criminals. Your rights and possessions are forfeit in this drug war, there’s not even a need to charge you with any crime. Bend over, here comes the long arm of the law. No Vaseline.

  • vickyvampire

    Yeah like many folks hell I did not how law enforcement really was until I started reading Drug War Rant and I’m learning more everyday citizens are just garbage to them. one wrong word and your toast reach wrong and you can be shot or searched or something planted on you or you car yup I sound paranoid,these are Dark days not kidding.
    Until Prohibition is over America will be crap city.
    Today my newspaper was whinging again about kids using Spice,I guess we will be hearing this same mantra every couple of months lamenting why will Bobby and Sally not stop using Spice well you dick heads same reason they will never stop using pot people like to alter their consciousness get over it, you fools.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    From time to time I’ve pondered the complexities of outfitting a vehicle with the needed equipment to do for “asset seizure” what the cops do with their “bait cars” for auto theft. I always get stuck on the problem of protecting the video because it would have to upload to a remote data storage location or the cops would just delete it. But the equipment and remote Internet access is getting cheaper and easier every day.

    Stay out of Illinois because it’s illegal there to record a cop doing his thing, make sure we’re in a 1 party consent State, and drive a car that gets cops excited. Make sure to stick to the script using SCOTUS approved magic words and phrases, “I’m refusing your search oaficer because I have an expectation of privacy of my person and property”, for example. Go down to the local probation and parole office and get a PO’s business card and make it easy for the cop to find. I mean like put some sticky on your driver’s license so that he “accidentally” finds out you’re “on probation or parole.” If the locality has a drug court that would be even better if you can get a business card that says Drug Court of Bump Ass, Virginia. Add a DARE and a FOP bumper sticker to draw their attention and get them suspicious. Would it be dirty pool to extract some oil and place it here and there on the vehicle to make sure the dogs “alert”? I’d laugh my ass off if they cut into the tires only to find …nothing but air pressure.

    I think it would be jolly good fun. I’ll drive if we can get the project put together. Is anyone else interested?

    (PS: there really is a Bumpass Virginia)

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .
    Oh c’mon darkcycle, nobody uses Vaseline any more because latex is Vaseline soluble and the condom just dissolves.

    Speaking of jack booted thugs stealing money, the Feds aren’t actually filing any criminal charges in the recent dispensary raids. After some thought I realized that they probably think that the criminal charges likely wouldn’t survive an entrapment by estoppel defense based on the 2009 Holder memo. Under that premise all of the DEA letters recently sent to the attorneys general of States with cannabis patient protection laws are being sent to cure that problem more than any other motivation.

    So in reality the Feds are making these raids with stealing the cash being the true immediate goal, and hoping to find a second set of business ledgers with the future goal being criminal and/or civil charges for evasion of Federal income tax. Since the Federal agents were authorized by a valid search warrant to be inside these places, the second set of books would be admissible as evidence. Cash today, even more cash later.
    ……………………………………………………

    Some cops don’t really care about the law. About 4 weeks ago I was piggybacking Staples free wifi parking lot in Falls Church VA. It was 2 AM. I really should have known better because I grew up in Falls Church and lived there for 33 years. So a cop sees me and lights me up. Most of it is pretty boring but after he gave me back my driver’s license he banned me from Falls Church. “I filled out a ‘citizen contact form’ so your information is now on file in the City of Falls Church database. Don’t come back.” So now I’m permanently banned from my home town. Sometimes life is totally surreal. And they wonder why we enjoy cannabis.

    (PS I don’t much care, Falls Church is a deadly boring shit hole.)

  • ssssssmokumout

    Drug policy experts all agree — criminalization has failed, and the most sensible policy is to regulate — but politicians are afraid the public won’t support change. Next week, a group of senior world leaders will break the taboo and publicly call for new approaches including decriminalization and regulation of drugs.

    This could be the opportunity of a generation. Let’s show our leaders that the public demand reform and a sane and effective policy. We have just days left to rally behind this call to ‘end the war on drugs’ before the high level meeting. Sign the urgent petition now — it will be delivered to the UN Secretary General and global leaders in New York.

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/end_the_war_on_drugs/96.php

  • Michealeen Andrews

    We need a reform and a sane and effective polcy to end the war on drugs