Biggest Drug War Victory? Courts, Governors Tiring of Asset Forfeiture

If cops weren’t allowed to seize your property without a trial—and, in many cases, without even accusing you of a crime—law enforcement in America would be near unrecognizable. For instance, the DEA would be $4 billion poorer.

As the Justice Department’s inspector general noted in March, DEA agents have seized $4 billion in cash over the last decade from travelers under the pretext of drug-related asset forfeiture. In more than 81 percent of the cases reviewed, there were no criminal charges filed, as Reason reported.

Investigations often began after innocuous acts that are not criminal: purchasing a last-minute or one-way ticket, traveling without checked luggage, or flying to a “known source city for drug trafficking.” Conveniently, that would include nearly every major city in America, according to federal drug agents.

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