Evidence, probably cause, reasonable suspicion, and due process are all things that were thrown out the door when the war on drugs began. The fact police departments are allowed to keep and seized evidence in drug related confiscations has meant there has been a great dead of drug confiscations (shocking, I know). A woman in Moorhead, Minnesota has just learned this lesson the hard way:
For the struggling waitress with five children, the $12,000 left at the table in a to-go box must have seemed too good to be true.
Moorhead police decided it was just that.
Now, the waitress is suing in Clay County District Court, claiming the cash was given to her and police shouldn’t have seized it as drug money.
“The thing that’s sad about it is here’s somebody who truly needs this gift … and now the government is getting in the way of it,” said the woman’s attorney, Craig Richie of Fargo.
Moorhead police Lt. Tory Jacobson said he couldn’t discuss the matter.
“We certainly have an ongoing investigation with it, with suspicion of narcotics or the involvement of narcotics investigators,” he said.
“Even though I desperately needed the money as my husband and I have 5 children, I feel I did the right thing by calling Moorhead Police,” she states in the lawsuit.
The lesson to take away from this story is never report cash gifts received to the state, they’ll just take it from you. What’s even worse is the fact this behavior is entirely legal thanks to United States Code 881(a)(6):
(a) Subject property
The following shall be subject to forfeiture to the United States and no property right shall exist in them:
(6) All moneys, negotiable instruments, securities, or other things of value furnished or intended to be furnished by any person in exchange for a controlled substance or listed chemical in violation of this subchapter, all proceeds traceable to such an exchange, and all moneys, negotiable instruments, and securities used or intended to be used to facilitate any violation of this subchapter.
Oh, it gets better. The above law has also been upheld in court:
Bundling and concealment of large amounts of currency, combined with other suspicious circumstances, supports a connection between money and drug trafficking. A plausible, but unlikely explanation by a claimant fails to show that the currency was not substantially connected to a narcotics offense. Judgment of the district court reversed.
Federal law basically gives a police officer sole discretion in deciding whether or not money in your possession is intended to be used to facilitate a violation of drug laws. When a random police officer mades this determination your right of ownership over that money is revoked by the state and they get to take it. The ruling in United States v. $124,000 in U.S. Currency states a plausible explanation on behalf of the police officer’s victim fails to show the money wasn’t substantially connected to a narcotics offense, so you’re truly guilty until proven innocent.
The war on drugs managed to destroy what little property rights remained in this country. One is no longer a self-owner as the state can dicate what you may or may not put into your body and any ownership of property outside of your body is also entirely ignored. While drug manufacturers and dealers made insane amounts of money because of the war on drugs the bigger criminal organization, the state, makes far more.