Erowid
 
 
Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  
Erowid Canvas Tote/Shopping Bag
This reusable "Ecobag" is made of 100% recycled mid-weight
(10 oz) cotton canvas, printed with the Erowid logo.
Donate now and receive yours!
Commentary on Asset Forfeiture
from the sfraves list
Jul 2, 1993
From: Roy Badami 
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 93 16:48:43 BST
Message-Id: <11255.9307021548@wundt.harlequin.co.uk>
To: sfraves@techno.Stanford.EDU
Subject: Well this has nothing to do with raves...

...but every time i read about civil forfeiture in the US, i just
can't believe that a so-called civilized nation can behave like this.

I used to think that the reason civil rights protestors were so vocal
in the US ws because you had so few rights left.  Now i've changed my
mind.  You have *no* rights left.  Thank the War On (some) Drugs for
that.  This is part or a long article that appeared in
talk.politics.drugs ...

I'm affraid the US is out of control, both internally and externally,
and no-one seems to care....  is it too late for sanity to prevail...?


	Cosmic Roy

-----------

INCIDENTS


* Willie Jones is the black owner of a landscaping service who paid for an
  airline ticket in cash.  This "suspicious" behavior caused the ticket
  agent to alert Nashville police. (1)  A search of Jones and his luggage
  yielded no drugs.  However, he did have a wallet containing $9,600 in
  cash on which a police dog detected traces of drugs (apparently true of
  97% of all currency now in circulation).  The cash was promptly seized
  despite protestations that it was intended for the purchase of shrubbery
  from growers.  No arrest was made. However, the seizure nearly drove
  Jones out of business.  He is unable to purchase the $960 bond necessary
  to mount a challenge. (2)

* Jacksonville University professor Craig Klein's new $24,000 sailboat was
  subjected to a fruitless drug search by U.S. Customs Service Agents.  In
  their 7-hour search, the boat was damaged beyond repair.  The engine was
  chopped up with a fire axe, the fuel tank was ruptured and 30 holes were
  drilled in the hull.  Mr. Klein sold the ship for scrap. (3)

* Billy and Karon Munnerlyn owned and operated an air charter service.  In
  October 1989, Mr. Munnerlyn was hired to fly Albert Wright from Little
  Rock, Arkansas to Ontario, California.  DEA agents seized Mr. Wright's
  luggage and found $2.7 million inside.  Both he and Mr. Munnerlyn were
  arrested.  Though the charges against Mr. Munnerlyn were quickly dropped
  for lack of evidence, the government refused to release the airplane
  (The charges against Mr. Wright, a convicted cocaine dealer, were
  eventually dropped as well.).  Mr. Munnerlyn spent over $85,000 in legal
  fees trying to get his plane back.  Though a Los Angeles jury awarded him
  the return of his airplane -- he had no knowledge that he was transporting
  drug money -- a U.S. District Judge reversed the jury's verdict.  Munnerlyn
  was forced to declare bankruptcy and is now forced to drive a truck for a
  living.  He eventually spent $7,000 to buy his plane back.  However, the
  DEA caused about $100,000 of damage.  The agency is not liable for the
  damage, and there is no way (4) that Mr. Munnerlyn can raise the money
  to re-start his business.

* A 61-year old California man, Donald Scott, was shot dead in front of his
  wife when 30 local, state, and federal agents attempted to serve him with
  a search warrant enabling them to inspect his 200-acre ranch in Malibu for
  cultivated marijuana.  He had brandished a handgun during the confusion of
  the early morning raid.  The Ventura County District Attorney's office
  found that:

     Upon receiving information from the informant, [Los Angeles County
     Sheriff's Deputy] Spencer originally thought that thousands of marijuana
     plants might be growing at the ranch.  Efforts to confirm the presence
     of marijuana were unsuccessful.  He was unable to see marijuana from the
     top of the waterfall and the Border Patrol did not see any plants during
     two attempts to do so. [DEA Special] Agent Stowell claimed to see only
     a relatively few plants, based solely on their color, but was unwilling
     to be the basis for a search warrant without corroboration.

     It is inherently unlikely that Agent Stowell could see marijuana plants
     suspended under trees in a densely vegetated area through naked-eye
     observations from 1000 feet.  His failure to take photographs is
     unexplained,and when the warrant was executed, no evidence of
     cultivation was found.  Based on all of the evidence, it is the
     District Attorney's conclusion that there was never marijuana being
     cultivated on the property as reported by Stowell.

  Real property used to cultivate marijuana may be forfeited under federal
  law. "It is the District Attorney's opinion that the Los Angeles County
  Sheriff's Department was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to
  seize and forfeit the ranch [adjacent to the Santa Monica Mountains
  National Recreation Area] for the government." (5)

* Police found five hundred marijuana plants growing on a retiree's 37-acre
  farm.  Delmar Puryear, who had retired with a disability and could not
  farm, insisted that he knew nothing about the plants.  A jury apparently
  believed him, finding him innocent of state criminal charges.  Despite
  this acquittal, the federal government refused to drop its efforts to
  seize the farm until Puryear agreed to pay $12,500. (6)

* Michael Sandsness owned two gardening supply stores in Eugene and Portland,
  Oregon.  Among the items sold were metal halide grow lights, which are
  used for growing indoor plants.  The grow lights can be used to grow
  marijuana, but it is not illegal in itself to sell them.  Because some
  marijuana gardens which were raided by the DEA had the lights, the agency
  began setting up a case to seize the business.  The DEA began sending
  undercover agents to the stores who tried without success to get employees
  to give advice on growing marijuana.  Finally, agents engaged in a
  conversation with an employee, and asked him for advice on the amount of
  heat or noise generated by the lights, making oblique comments suggesting
  they would want to avoid detection and making a comment about High Times
  magazine but never actually mentioning marijuana.  The employee then sold
  the agents grow lights.  The DEA then raided the stores, seizing inventory
  and bank accounts.  Agents approached the landlord of one of the stores
  and told him that if he did not evict the tenant, the building would be
  seized.  The landlord reluctantly evicted them.  While the forfeiture case
  was pending, the business was destroyed.  Sandsness was forced to sell
  the inventory not seized in order to pay off creditors. (7)