Federal officials agreed to refund the savings of a New Orleans resident who was seized by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), at an airport. This is a technique known as civil assets forfeiture.
Federal prosecutors agreed to drop the case against $28,000 worth of cash that the DEA seized in Kermit Warren’s possession. Kermit is a grandfather who claims he had the cash to buy a towtruck. The Institute for Justice is a libertarian law firm. Warren wasn’t charged with any crime. Under civil asset forfeiture laws police have the power to seize property thought to be related or connected to criminal activity even though its owner has not been convicted.
There are reasons reported Warren’s August civil asset forfeiture case. Warren is a former shoehiner and longshoreman. He and his son were laid off last year due to COVID-19 lockdowns. With the money to purchase a truck, he and his son went to Ohio last November. Warren claimed that the truck wasn’t big enough for him and he bought his son a return ticket.
The DEA officers stopped them at the airport to question them about the cash in their bags. Warren’s cash was not reported to the federal government until April. The federal government claimed Warren and his child gave inconsistent and insufficient answers regarding their trip itinerary and plans to purchase the truck. Warren claimed he panicked and also falsely claimed he was a retired officer. The agents concluded Warren was involved with drug trafficking, and took his cash.
Federal prosecutors accepted that Warren’s forfeiture claim against him would be dismissed and that he would return the money.
Warren stated in an Institute for Justice press release, “I am relieved that my hard-earned savings will finally be returned after one year of suffering.” What happened was wrong. While I had only been trying to make my business better and improve my life, the officers and prosecutors treated my like a criminal. I’ve been left stranded without savings for over a year because of them. Although I was innocent, until there is a change in law to protect everyone, cash will not be an option.
It is legal to fly domestically with large sums of money, however, local and federal authorities often stop travellers, check their baggage, and take their cash in suspicion of drug trafficking.
The DEA or Transportation Security Administration flags airport travellers who display allegedly suspicious behaviour, including purchasing short turnaround tickets and travelling lightly. The 2016 a USA Today investigationThere was evidence that the DEA seized over $209 million worth of travel documents from at least 5200 people in 15 large airports. This is in the tenth decade.
According to law enforcement agencies, civil asset forfeiture can be used as a tool against organized crime such as drug trafficking by targeting illicit proceeds.
Civil liberties organizations say that there is not enough protection for innocent owners, and police have too many incentives to seize property based on weak suspicions. These concerns have prompted more than half the states to adopt some type of asset forfeiture reform.
The Institute for Justice currently is A separate class action lawsuit can be filed For people whose money was seized from them at the airport by the DEA. Stacy Jones was one of the plaintiffs in the case. She had $43,167 cash seized at airports by the DEA while she tried to return to Tampa from Wilmington. Jones claims the cash came from Jones’s sale of a car and money her husband wanted to use at a casino.
Terrence Rolin (a 79 year-old former railroad engineer) was one of the plaintiffs named in the suit. His life savings, which total $82,373, were taken by the DEA when his daughter attempted to fly out of Pittsburgh in order to deposit it in a bank. The DEA took Terrence Rolin’s life savings of $82,373 and seized him after his daughter tried to take it on a flight out of Pittsburgh with the intention of depositing it in a bank. The money was returned
Dan Alban (Institute for Justice Senior Attorney) says, “Kermit’s Case highlights how federal government abuses Civil Forfeiture.” “It seizes cash on the flimsiest of pretexts—traveling with cash at an airport—and effectively forces people to prove their own innocence to get their money back. Even in the best case scenario it could take up to a year before they get their property back.