Over the past 5 years, federal forfeiture cases in Nebraska resulted in over $4.6 million in seized assets. Forfeiture is the loss of property as a penalty for wrongdoing. In drug cases, money and property that are connected to the drug trade can be taken by police in connection with an arrest, even if the person is not charged with a crime. Now, Local law enforcement is unsure of how to proceed with forfeitures following a new order from United States Attorney General Eric Holder.
Holder declared that local and state police were no longer able to use federal law to justify forfeiture without warrants or pressing criminal charges. Before this, federal and local authorities would split seized money, with 80% going to local offices and 20% to federal agencies. Law enforcement agencies continue to justify these seizures by saying that taking this money out of commission prevents it from being used to further the drug trade and drug trafficking across state lines.
Why do police seize assets?
According to the Lincoln Journal Star , local law enforcement agencies claim they have a system of checks and balances in place to make sure that asset seizures are legitimate. In Lancaster County alone, 50 searches and seizures occurred in just over two years and led to 48 arrests and $4.7 million in assets. However, others believe that law enforcement do not use forfeiture as a penalty to a crime, but rather as an enterprise.
After decades of fighting trafficking and asset forfeiture charges made on interstates, especially Interstate 80, Berry Law Firm has seen police tactics change over time. Attorney John S. Berry Jr. indicated that five years ago 90% of Berry Law Firm’s interstate cases were drug interdictions involving marijuana, methamphetamine, or cocaine. Now the focus of law enforcement has changes and, it’s 50% actual drug interdictions and 50% cash seizure. Attorney Berry believes that law enforcement along Interstate 80 will not be affected by Holder’s decision since they have more ties to federal agencies than rural law enforcement agencies. In fact, more people may find themselves facing charges for possession of drug money, drug conspiracies, and money laundering in connection with drug trafficking.
There have been numerous cases of law enforcement seizing cash and assets along Interstate 80 from people who have nothing to do with the drug trade or drug trafficking. If you have been falsely accused of a drug crime or your properly wrongfully seized by the government reach out to our firm today.