DEA Takes Billions In Cash From People Not Charged With A Crime, Can’t Say How It’s Helping

At some point in time over the last 20 years or so using cash in transactions has somehow become a suspicious activity.

Perhaps credit card companies played a role in the process of making cash transactions suspect as they profit and a small business person loses with every credit and or debit card transaction.

We have learned from gun dealers that various card processing services will not handle firearms transactions.  The founder of Paypal has become a billionaire from taking a percentage of every Paypal transaction.

But it isn’t just about people using cash at gun shows.  Think about Flea Markets, guitar show, car auctions and the shows where car enthusiasts sell everything from parst to cars.  Indeed think about the purchase of old cars from on line sites and how cash often makes the deal.

The War on Drugs has morphed into a general War on Civil Rights and has subverted numerous amendments that are the foundation of our Bill of Rights.

From Huffington Post:

The controversial practice endangers Americans’ civil liberties, critics say.

By Nick Wing & Ryan J. Reilly

WASHINGTON ― Over the past decade, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has permanently seized $3.2 billion in cash from individuals who were never charged with a crime, according to a Justice Department inspector general report released Wednesday.

Authorities confiscated this money using a controversial process known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows police to take property ― including vehicles, jewelry, houses and, most commonly, cash ― based solely on the suspicion it’s tied to crime.

Law enforcement officials say civil forfeiture is a crime-fighting tool that allows them to target the financial proceeds of illegal activity, even when they don’t have direct evidence of wrongdoing.

But due to lax reporting standards around civil forfeiture, the extent of those benefits is unclear, the report found. It also raised concern about the DEA’s reliance on interdiction operations along highways and at transportation hubs, as well as the agency’s inconsistent policies and training procedures.

Since 2007, the DEA has taken in $4.15 billion in cash forfeitures. Of that, $3.2 billion ― or 81 percent ― involved cases in which no criminal charges were filed. These sorts of seizures, usually made without a court-issued warrant and without the presence of narcotics, carry the highest risk of violating civil liberties, according to the report. With no independent judicial oversight and weak protections for property owners, opponents argue that members of law enforcement routinely abuse civil forfeiture.

The report sought to probe these issues by taking a closer look at how the DEA takes people’s cash. But the authors encountered a roadblock.

The DEA doesn’t “use aggregate data to evaluate fully and oversee their seizure operations, or to determine whether seizures benefit criminal investigations or the extent to which they may pose potential risks to civil liberties,” the report found.

Investigators instead chose to focus on a sample of 100 DEA cash seizures made without a warrant or the presence of drugs. Of these seizures, 85 were part of interdiction activity at transportation facilities or along highways. The smallest seizure involved $3,000 confiscated at an airport.

Only six of these 85 cases were prompted by pre-existing intelligence about a specific drug crime, and most were associated with cold consent encounters, which involve officers approaching people they suspect of involvement in drug trafficking and asking their permission to conduct a search. The inspector general’s office has criticized this practice as being prone to racial profiling.

In over half of the 100 cases examined, there was no discernible evidence the seizures advanced law enforcement efforts, the report found. In only 44 cases could the DEA say conclusively that the seizures had “advanced or been related to ongoing investigations, resulted in the initiation of new investigations, led to arrests, or led to prosecutions.”

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