Watch Nevada Highway Patrol Officers Seize a Veteran’s Life Savings Through Asset Forfeiture

Stephen Lara stated that Officer Brown was taking his money from my children’s pockets. He said this as Nevada Highway Patrol officers took his savings.

Lara was stopped by police near Reno in February 19th. Lara was stopped by police near Reno on February 19. Lara was not charged or arrested for a crime. The officers found nearly $90,000 in bundled cash inside Lara’s backpack. They claimed that the money was drug trafficking proceeds.

Lara’s funds have been returned to the government by Lara, who was then reimbursed. The Institute for Justice is a liberal-leaning law firm that serves public interests. Released body camera footageThe February 19, traffic stop was described as a rare glimpse at an abuse of power, which thousands of innocent Americans witness each year.

The Washington Post1. reportedLara’s case was finally settled in September by the Institute for Justice. The lawsuit was filed against Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Lara’s behalf. Lara had not received his money for over six months following that traffic stop.

I left there in confusion. Lara said, “I left there confused.” Post. “And I couldn’t believe I was literally robbed by badge-wielding people with guns and guns on the side road.”

Lara was stopped by the Nevada Highway Patrol for driving too close to semi-trucks and going under the limit. Lara was a Marine combat vet who was traveling from Texas to California in order to see his daughters.

Lara asked the officer several questions about her past. He almost sheepishly revealed that he did also do drug interdiction work. Lara inquired whether he had guns, cash, or drugs in his car. 

Lara said he has cash. It was a lot.

Lara said, “I don’t trust banks. So I keep my money.” The officer then allowed him to search his vehicle.

Lara was a potential trafficker on paper. Lara was renting a car to drive a long-distance, short-turnaround trip. He had $87,000 cash. The civil asset forfeiture laws permit police to seize property believed to be linked to criminal activity and not charge the owner. For drug interdiction, the law enforcement organizations believe that civil forfeiture allows them to take control of traffickers and their illicit profits.

However, it is legal to travel domestically carrying large sums of money. The officer admits this fact.

“So, as you know, right—I’m a vet, he’s a vet, you’re a vet—it’s not illegal to carry currency or have currency,” the officer says. We are now able to question why $100,000 is being held by someone. “I can see why banks aren’t trusted in our day and age.”

Lara replied, “I don’t have anything to hide.” Lara replied that he actually had many years worth of bank receipts detailing cash withdrawals.

A Nevada Highway Patrol sergeant arrived at the scene and requested that a drug sniffing dog be brought in, even though there was no probable cause for the cash to be taken. Officers announced to the dog that the money would be taken as probable proceeds from drug dealing.

Civil liberties organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ISOJ) say cases like Lara’s demonstrate how police use civil forfeiture for property seizes on the basis of flimsy suspicions. Even though they have never been charged, the owners must go to court and prove their innocence or that their property is not being used for a crime.

In a press release, Wesley Hottot (a senior lawyer at the Institute for Justice) stated that “carrying cash around is not a crime.” Stephen did not do anything wrong. The government has not charged him with any crimes and he isn’t willing to defend the seizure before a court. Property shouldn’t be taken from an innocent person. 

These concerns have led to 35 states adopting some type of asset forfeiture reform in the last decade. Four states—Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Maine—have EliminatedThe law prohibits civil forfeiture and requires that property be forfeited upon conviction.

Lara brought suit against the DEA because Lara was unaware of a loophole in forfeiture laws. The DEA cooperates with local and state police in drug interdiction efforts. Federal law enforcement may “adopt.” forfeiture cases from these officers, moving them to federal courts. Local police departments get a share of forfeiture proceeds up to 80 per cent.

While Lara’s money was in the hands of Nevada Highway Patrol officers, one of the agents from DEA called.

Asset forfeiture opponents claim such adoptions provide a loophole for state and local law enforcement to avoid stricter requirements and laws regarding civil forfeiture. The Institute for Justice estimated that Nevada Highway Patrol would be able to make $70,000 off the federal forfeiture Lara’s cash.

In 2015, Eric Holder (former Attorney General) restricted federal law enforcement’s ability to adopt cases of local forfeiture. Jeff Sessions was able to do so in 2017. RescindedThese are the rules.

Lara was stopped by the police about one hour after he had been pulled over. The officers gave him a receipt for seizure along with a number to a DEA agent.

Lara explained to them that the money she had in her jacket was only a few bucks. “I don’t even have the money I need to pay my bills, to stay at a hotel or to drive my car home to Texas.

Lara, according to the Institute for Justice had to ask his brother for money in order to pay for his trip.

Lara filed a lawsuit against the DEA after Lara missed his deadline to file a forfeiture or cash return case in federal court. The Washington PostPost published a report on the case and reported that the government had agreed to refund his money. Lara continues to sue the DEA, and the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Lara from the Institute for Justice says, “I find this even more concerning because if this can happen to me as a combat vet who served overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan, it could happen anywhere,”

However, the Nevada Highway Patrol didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.