Us Americans love bragging about living in the freest goddamn country on Earth. And woe is the poor son of a bitch who crosses a self-proclaimed patriot by saying the United States aren’t actually very free. But when you have people in neighboring countries warning their fellow citizens not to enter the United States with large amounts of cash less some police officer confiscates it using civil forfeiture laws, well, you can’t make too many claims about being a free country:
On its official website, the Canadian government informs its citizens that “there is no limit to the amount of money that you may legally take into or out of the United States.” Nonetheless, it adds, banking in the U.S. can be difficult for non-residents, so Canadians shouldn’t carry large amounts of cash.
That last bit is excellent advice, but for an entirely different reason than the one Ottawa cites.
There’s a shakedown going on in the U.S., and the perps are in uniform.
Across America, law enforcement officers — from federal agents to state troopers right down to sheriffs in one-street backwaters — are operating a vast, co-ordinated scheme to grab as much of the public’s cash as they can; “hand over fist,” to use the words of one police trainer.
The article then goes on to explain the scam, which everybody in this country should be aware of. Basically civil forfeiture laws allow an officer to confiscate any property that they claim to believe is tied to a drug crime. No charges have to be made against you for the office to take your shit and the burden of proving the property isn’t related to a drug crime is entirely on you. And since it’s impossible to prove with absolute certainty that your property isn’t tied to a drug crime you’re fucked.
The author of the article, Neil Macdonald, has some good advice for any Canadian traveling into the United Police States of America (and this advice is good to heed if you’re living here as well):
So, for any law-abiding Canadian thinking about an American road trip, here’s some non-official advice:
Avoid long chats if you’re pulled over. Answer questions politely and concisely, then persistently ask if you are free to go.
Don’t leave litter on the vehicle floor, especially energy drink cans.
Don’t use air or breath fresheners; they could be interpreted as an attempt to mask the smell of drugs.
Don’t be too talkative. Don’t be too quiet. Try not to wear expensive designer clothes. Don’t have tinted windows.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t consent to a search if you are carrying a big roll of legitimate cash.
As the Canadian government notes, there is no law against carrying it here or any legal limit on how much you can carry. But if you’re on an American roadway with a full wallet, in the eyes of thousands of cash-hungry cops you’re a rolling ATM.
Remember that the police are not your friends. Their job is to extort wealth from you. Treat them just like any other violent criminal. Give them a wide berth and if you have to interact with them say as little as you can and try to make the interaction as short as possible.