American Shakedown: Police Won’t Charge You, But They’ll Grab Your Money

 

 

 

 

 

 

” 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. “

  It usually starts on the road somewhere. An officer pulls you over for some minor infraction — changing lanes without proper signalling, following the car ahead too closely, straddling lanes. The offense is irrelevant.

  Then the police officer wants to chat, asking questions about where you’re going, or where you came from, and why. He’ll peer into your car, then perhaps ask permission to search it, citing the need for vigilance against terrorist weaponry or drugs.

What he’s really looking for, though, is money.

‘Authorities claim it’s legal, but some prosecutors and judges have called it what it is: abuse. In any case, it’s a nasty American reality.’

  And if you were foolish (or intimidated) enough to have consented to the search, and you’re carrying any significant amount of cash, you are now likely to lose it.

  The officer will probably produce a waiver, saying that if you just sign over the money then the whole matter will just disappear, and you’ll be able to go on your way.

  Refuse to sign it, and he may take the cash anyway, proclaiming it the probable proceeds of drugs or some other crime.

  Either way, you almost certainly won’t be charged with anything; the objective is to take your money, not burden the system.

  You’ll have the right to seek its return in court, but of course that will mean big lawyer’s fees, and legally documenting exactly where the money came from. You will need to prove you are not a drug dealer or a terrorist.

  It might take a year or two. And several trips back to the jurisdiction where you were pulled over. Sorry.

  In places like Tijuana, police don’t make any pretense about this sort of thing. Here in the U.S., though, it’s dressed up in terms like “interdiction and forfeiture,” or “the equitable sharing program.

  Authorities claim it’s legal, but some prosecutors and judges have called it what it is: abuse.

  In any case, it’s a nasty American reality.

  Seizing suspected drug money has been legal here for decades, but after 9/11 police acquired a whole new set of powers and justifications. And they set about using them for profit.

The Washington Post this week reported that in the past 13 years, there have been 61,998 cash seizures on roadways and elsewhere without use of search warrants. The total haul: $2.5 billion.

  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. “

 

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