That Money Is GUILTY!
As yet another example of how insane the drug war has become, cops in Nebraska have seized $69K in “suspected drug money” from a driver who was not arrested, ticketed, nor in any way proven to be involved in criminal activity:
Deputy Chris Engel, 25, had been on the job just two weeks when a routine traffic stop Dec. 20 turned into the biggest cash seizure the Nebraska county has ever seen.
Engel pulled over a Salt Lake City, Utah, resident whom he suspected of speeding on Interstate 80 near the town of Kimball.
The driver’s story didn’t add up, Engel said, so he did a little more investigating. In the end, $69,040 in cash was taken from the car. Officials suspect the money is connected to a drug-trafficking operation, he said.
The driver was not arrested — or even ticketed for going 10 mph over the 75 mph speed limit. (He was warned.) But the investigation is ongoing, Engel said. The Nebraska State Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Agency are assisting in the investigation.
It was the first big cash seizure Kimball County has seen, said Sheriff Tim Hanson. With Interstate 80 running through the Panhandle county, he believes there are ample opportunities to make a dent in drug operations. But in such a sparsely populated county with few resources, it has been difficult to devote deputies’ time to patrolling the Interstate, he said.
“Chris is a very aggressive young deputy,” Hanson said.
Investigators don’t know if they will be able to connect the money to a drug operation, Hanson said, but the important work already has been done.
“The big thing is he grabbed 69 (thousand dollars) and took it away from them,” Hanson said of the money seized. “That’s going right straight to the heart of the matter.”
As I found this story through Radley Balko, I’m going to apply one of his general rules of drug raids. If the cops have evidence against someone in a situation like this, they’ll immediately state that as justification for their actions. Silence is most often to be interpreted as a lack of evidence.
But look at what the Sheriff says. They don’t know whether they can connect the money to drugs, but the “important work” is done. Wouldn’t it be important to prove that the money was obtained illegally? Wouldn’t be important to prove that the driver was doing something wrong which would justify the seizure of his money? Don’t they need to satisfy any due process?
Sadly, the answer is no. As we learned a year and a half ago, simply having large amounts of cash is a crime. And because they charge the money with the crime, not the owner of the money, they don’t need to assume that the owner of the money is innocent until proven guilty. Rather, the money is assumed to be drug-related, and the owner must sue to prove its legitimacy.
I’ve often said that government is thinly-veiled thievery. Now they’re so confident in themselves that they’re removing the veil.