This time the ACLU is involved and has filed suit, which one can only hope leads to the complete overturning of the drug seizure laws.
A trucker has sued the Drug Enforcement Administration, seeking to get back nearly $24,000 seized by DEA agents earlier this month at a weigh station on U.S. 54 in New Mexico north of El Paso, Texas.
Anastasio Prieto of El Paso gave a state police officer at the weigh station permission to search the truck to see if it contained “needles or cash in excess of $10,000,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the federal lawsuit Thursday.
Prieto told the officer he didn’t have any needles but did have $23,700.
So naturally, having no evidence whatsoever that the man is in any way involved in drug dealing, they
steal seize the man’s money:
Officers took the money and turned it over to the DEA. DEA agents photographed and fingerprinted Prieto over his objections, then released him without charging him with anything.
Border Patrol agents searched his truck with drug-sniffing dogs, but found no evidence of illegal substances, the ACLU said.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants violated Prieto’s right to be free of unlawful search and seizure by taking his money without probable cause and by fingerprinting and photographing him.
“Mere possession of approximately $23,700 does not establish probable cause for a search or seizure,” the lawsuit said…
DEA agents told Prieto he would receive a notice of federal proceedings to permanently forfeit the money within 30 days and that to get it back, he’d have to prove it was his and did not come from illegal drug sales.
Yeah, because that whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing was just a big misunderstanding. The drug seizure laws should be done away with. Completely. They are a blatantly unconstitutional means of nothing more than government theft.