Highway Robbery

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Kudos to Nashville’s News 5 for doing this investigation. Note that even if you buy into this crap—that the drug war is worth fighting, and that asset forfeiture is an essential part of fighting it—the cops are letting the drugs go in order to pursue the cash. And that’s not just in Tennessee. In my asset forfeiture piece for Reason, I found academic papers noting incidents in which cops would find a stash house, but wouldn’t bust the place until all or most of the drugs had been sold. There’s no return on a house full of dope. There’s plenty of return on a house full of cash.

And of course all of that is really beside the point. The more fundamental problem, here: This is just state-sanctioned robbery by another name.

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45 Responses to “Highway Robbery”

  1. #1 |  Professor Coldheart | 

    That’s monumentally crooked. And as you say, I’m glad it’s getting mainstream coverage. Another step toward change.

  2. #2 |  WWJGD | 

    That stash house line actually got a verbal OMGWTF out of me…something I thought this site had deadened me to.

    Pro drug war friends are gonna love this bit of info.

  3. #3 |  Fred Mangels | 

    If you folks haven’t seen it yet, there’s what I think is a new “reality” type show on TV called “DEA”. It’s one of those cop shows where they follow DEA agents around to busts. I forget what channel I saw it on but they showed episodes back to back last night.

    I only watched an hour to an hour and a half but I thought it interesting that all the arrests I saw just turned into them “flipping”, as they call it, one dealer after another. They’d arrest one dealer and cut a deal with him where they’d let him go if he (or she) would help them catch the next higher up.

    The one girl last night agrees and helps bust a higher up, but the higher up wouldn’t cooperate, at least up until the end of the show. Made me wonder how high up they’d keep cutting deals?

    And you should see all the guns they have.

  4. #4 |  Dave Krueger | 

    It’s friggin’ amazing how utterly sleazy those cops can be and still have a straight face when confronted with their own fucking behavior. It’s like, “Oh! We never knew that was going on!” And, of course, this doesn’t even register on the radar of most of the public. Anyone with that much cash must be running drugs, so who gives a shit?

    The biggest enemy of Bill of Rights is your idiot neighbors. As long as it doesn’t interrupt Dancing with the Stars, it’s not a police state.

  5. #5 |  Bergman | 

    The USMC Anthem contains the words “shores of Tripoli”. The reference is to a battle fought by US Marines over two centuries ago, to punish a government that was not just giving a safe harbor to pirates and slavers, but outright sponsoring both.

    At what point does asset forfeiture cross the line into banditry? Some places in the US have already not just crossed that line, but can’t even see it anymore, they’re so far past it. Corrupt governments will argue that piracy and banditry are only wrong when other governments do it, not when they themselves do it. But really, there must come a point where armed resistance is morally justified.

  6. #6 |  Pinandpuller | 

    Ten times the stops on the money side not on the drug side. That’s a Mike Wallace moment.

    I drive the drug side every day to work.

  7. #7 |  Joe | 

    How is this not a conflict of interest? We might as well go back to the 70s when cops took the money and bought a house and boat in Florida. Strangely enough, that was more honest in a way.

  8. #8 |  The Mossy Spaniard | 

    Dave, that last line is thoroughly quotable.

  9. #9 |  C.E. | 

    Even probable cause requires more than “mere suspicion”, and the existence of a lot of cash creates nothing but “mere suspicion.” That district attorney is just downright unethical. Unfortunately, judges continue to let the Government get away with this nonsense.

    On a side note, the owner of that cash should have kept his damn mouth shut and let his lawyer talk for him.

    On another side note, I know how to hit the drug traffickers in their pocketbooks with the equivalent of a nuclear bomb: make drugs legal.

  10. #10 |  Marty | 

    it’s amazing to me watching people agree to allow their vehicles and persons searched. there seems to be no resistance… I guess prepping all those students by drug testing, having dogs sniff them, searching their lockers, searching their cars, searching their book bags, and ‘graduating’ them through the DARE program is really paying off.

  11. #11 |  RomanCandle | 

    So much in life is about incentives. Part of me can’t even blame the cops for turning into bandits. Easy money is very hard to turn down, especially if you’re stealing it from unsavory people to begin with. That rationalization process is very easy, especially if you have a mortgage, alimony, kids wanting to go to college, or any other middle class expenses.

    The real surprise is not that there are cops that steal, but that there are actually a few left who don’t.

  12. #12 |  JS | 

    Dave Krueger “The biggest enemy of Bill of Rights is your idiot neighbors. As long as it doesn’t interrupt Dancing with the Stars, it’s not a police state.”

    Brilliant! That’s going in my collection of quotes.

  13. #13 |  Jay | 

    Marty, when a man with a gun who is a member of a dangerous criminal gang asks if he can rummage around in your car, you say YES. It’s only in the out-of-touch world of the Supreme Court that people are actually free hold onto their constitutional rights by just telling the cop “no”.

  14. #14 |  Bergman | 

    Re: Marty, #10:

    In civil asset forfeiture, it truly does not matter if you refuse a request to search. So what if the money they find cannot be used as evidence of a crime against you? They don’t need to even charge you with one to seize the money and keep it. In fact, it’s cheaper for them to never charge you, just seize your money and property. They needn’t even stop at just money, either; The same assertion of possibly being proceeds from or used to the benefit of drug trafficking could be applied to your car, your wristwatch, your child’s lollipop, anything.

    A man with a gun demands to search you and your vehicle. If you allow it, he takes everything of value. If you don’t allow it, he draws his gun, holds you at gunpoint and searches anyway, then takes everything of value. Aside from one path having a higher probability of being shot, the end results are exactly the same.

  15. #15 |  KBCraig | 

    Best line, at 2:03: “Do you have any large amounts of money TEE-ENNY MUCHO MUCHO DINERO EN SU tractor-trailer?”

    Followed by the Hispanic driver cutting his eyes to the side trying to figure out WTF this hillbilly just said.

    I bet the driver speaks better English than the officer, not to mention Spanish.

  16. #16 |  Marty | 

    13 and 14- I disagree. you should never consent to searches. don’t resist, but never consent. video tape interactions with cops. people are being conditioned to allow govt officials to search their property and don’t understand how to decline these intrusions.

    flex your rights has good videos demonstrating this.

  17. #17 |  GC | 

    The follow-up video that is mentioned at the end — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Dcu7JP1aiI

  18. #18 |  Black 27 | 

    Someone needs to go after these agencies using civil RICO statutes. Hard to sue a government agency, of course, but in egregious cases like this one can actually hit back. (Tenaha/Shelby County Texas coming to mind).

    Cause these bastards to spend hundreds of thousands in legal fees and maybe their budgetary concerns will discourage this sort of theft.

  19. #19 |  omar | 

    If you folks haven’t seen it yet, there’s what I think is a new “reality” type show on TV called “DEA”.

    I’m aware of its existence.

  20. #20 |  Oath Breaker Dude | 

    Highway robbery like this will continue unless it is deterred, i.e., punished. But we all know the perpetrators of highway robbery will not be punished, not enough anyway, to have a deterrent effect.

    So long as the perps are allowed to live their lives comfortably and undisturbed, this kind of thing will continue.

    So keep on reading and writing, libertarians. Keep on “agitating” (lol!), and watch as this stuff continues with no let up.

    We are losing, in case you haven’t been keeping score.

  21. #21 |  Chris in AL | 

    If the cops know where the drug house is and wait until all the drugs are sold to bust it, or leave the incoming drugs alone and worry just about the outgoing money, then the cops are drug dealers. So, when do the super evil, super-powered, super-funded, devil drug lords start taking out all these cops for encroaching on their territory and stealing all their money?

    The cops are out-eviling the drug lords.

  22. #22 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Finally a cop is held accountable and convicted! http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/22/us-egypt-police-death-idUSTRE74L1XX20110522

    All it takes is a revolution I guess. Of course he is nowhere to be found. Rumor has it he’s applied for the Philly PD.

  23. #23 |  JS | 

    This is a great development. How long have the local news media been just ignoring these kinds of stories? When the media start covering it like this everytime it happens then and only then will our out of control police ever be reigned in.

  24. #24 |  Dante | 

    With apologies to Casablanca:

    I am Shocked, SHOCKED, to find that American Law Enforcement is corrupt, greedy and intellectually dishonest. Just like criminals.

    Then again, their motto should have given me a clue – never more true than in this story.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  25. #25 |  LivingPre911Still | 

    It’ll shut itself down soon enough… Robeson County, N.C., just above the S.C. border on I-95 had one of these operations going for years and years.. you’d always see the Sheriff Department cars, two, side by side waiting for a “Suspicious” car, van or truck… like mine, I was pulled by a plate in the head type… However, money corupts absolutely and the program was trashed after a federal sting… the cops were pocketing money….

  26. #26 |  Bergman | 

    What I’m waiting to see happen, is the police strong-arm robbery of an armored cash courier service. Pull over one of those bank couriers, demand to search, discover thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars inside, and seize it as potentially drug-related money.

  27. #27 |  Black Market | 

    Seems like the cops learned their lessons from Lester Freeman on the Wire. Screw the drugs, follow the money.

  28. #28 |  Duncan20903 | 

    Not to support this form of state sanctioned highway robbery but I do think it’s very arguable that taking the cash from the cartels hurts them a whole heckuva lot more than taking their product. A scan of news headlines over the last year will find scores and scores of uninvolved people receiving packages with 1os of pounds of cannabis, e.g. the wife of Berwyn Heights MD Mayor Cheye Calvo. For the last two years there’s been a bumper crop of cannabis in North America and the cartels have product coming out of their collective ears.

    Let me reiterate that it is my belief that the methods being employed are despicable and morally bankrupt. But anyone that’s been inside of this world knows there’s no shortage of product in the US. I think the last time I had a problem finding cannabis because of law enforcement interdiction was in 1989. It wasn’t that long ago that a freakin’ railroad car with 11 tons (22,000 lbs) was confiscated by LE. Anyone with any working knowledge of the mechanics if contraband smuggling knows that the top level smugglers know better than to put all of their eggs in one basket. It’s not unreasonable to infer that at minimum 2 railroad box cars with an equal amount made it to their destination, and that not a single person that wanted to buy some of the pot from the carload that was busted was even aware of it happening unless they happened to read the news story.

    The DEA opened for business in 1970. I often wonder how many tons of cannabis were seized in 1969. It wouldn’t shock me if that one 11 ton seizure exceeded the total amount confiscated in the year of the Summer of Love.

    I’ve never understood why the people in favor of the failed war on (some) drugs have no concern with the fact that it’s an epic failure of public policy in the past, and a guaranteed failure in the future. How many more decades of failure must our society endure before these clowns admit that it’s a failure as plain as the big, red, honking noses on their faces?

  29. #29 |  JS | 

    Duncan20903 “Not to support this form of state sanctioned highway robbery but I do think it’s very arguable that taking the cash from the cartels hurts them a whole heckuva lot more than taking their product.”

    That may be true but in that case the cure is worse than the disease. I’d rather have the drug dealers than that kind of police running around. Like Bugsy Siegel said “Hey we only kill each other.” Drug dealers don’t bother me because I have no dealings with them but everytime I leace the house I have to fear an encounter with the police that could take a wrong turn at any time.

  30. #30 |  Sebastian H | 

    “Not to support this form of state sanctioned highway robbery but I do think it’s very arguable that taking the cash from the cartels hurts them a whole heckuva lot more than taking their product. ”

    This doesn’t make sense in view of the article. If you bust them before they sell the dope, you take the dope AND the dealer doesn’t get cash for selling the dope–you are depriving them of sales AND cash.

  31. #31 |  Stick | 

    I could almost feel the waves of deceit coming off DA Kim Helper and that stooge police chief Ricky Chandler.

    “…location of their traffic stops. There were ten times as many on the money side.”
    “We want both sides of the road worked”
    “It looks like they’re not concerned with stopping the drugs, they just want the money.”

    I couldn’t finish watching it. My frustration at not being able to stop them was making me very angry.

  32. #32 |  Fascist Nation | 

    What?! You thought piracy only happened in Somalia?

  33. #33 |  Attack the System » Blog Archive » Highway Robbery | 

    […] From The Agitator. ——————————————————————————————————– Kudos to Nashville’s News 5 for doing this investigation. Note that even if you buy into this crap—that the drug war is worth fighting, and that asset forfeiture is an essential part of fighting it—the cops are letting the drugs go in order to pursue the cash. And that’s not just in Tennessee. In my asset forfeiture piece for Reason, I found academic papers noting incidents in which cops would find a stash house, but wouldn’t bust the place until all or most of the drugs had been sold. There’s no return on a house full of dope. There’s plenty of return on a house full of cash. […]

  34. #34 |  Curt | 

    IJ as a conservative group? Aren’t the “conservatives” the ones who are the law-and-order type and tend to advocate crap like this?

  35. #35 |  Douglas Willinger | 

    People ignore the larger reality that it is all about major multi-billion dollar agricultrural commdities:

    http://freedomofmedicineanddiet.blogspot.com/2011/03/drug-war-tobacco-pharma-agricultural.html

    Is it any coincidence how cigarette sales spiked with each of the successive drug prohibition statutes – 1906, 1914 and 1937?

  36. #36 |  Why the Exclusionary Rule Matters | The Agitator | 

    […] illegally pulling over and harassing innocent motorists. In fact, if you’ll remember back to that Nashville TV news investigation on asset forfeiture last month, there’s a strong financial incentive in favor of profiling […]

  37. #37 |  Traffic Stop Of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns About Drug Searches | USA Press | 

    […] state (the highway is popular for drivers, flush with cash and jewelry, going to and from casinos). A Nashville TV station recently reported on a stretch in Tennessee where the vast majority of police stops were of […]

  38. #38 |  Traffic Stop Of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns About Drug Searches « CrimeAlertBlog.Com | 

    […] state (the highway is popular for drivers, flush with cash and jewelry, going to and from casinos). A Nashville TV station recently reported on a stretch in Tennessee where the vast majority of police stops were of […]

  39. #39 |  Illinois Traffic Stop Of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns About Drug Searches, Police Dogs, Bad Cops | Emm Report | 

    […] state (the highway is popular for drivers, flush with cash and jewelry, going to and from casinos). A Nashville TV station recently reported on a stretch in Tennessee where the vast majority of police stops were of […]

  40. #40 |  Illinois Traffic Stop Of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns About Drug Searches, Police Dogs, Bad Cops_ | | 

    […] (the highway is popular for drivers, flush with cash and jewelry, going to and from casinos). A Nashville TV station recently reported on a stretch in Tennessee where the vast majority of police stops were of […]

  41. #41 |  WeMustChange » Blog Archive » Traffic Stop Of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns About Drug Searches | 

    […] state (the highway is popular for drivers, flush with cash and jewelry, going to and from casinos). A Nashville TV station recently reported on a stretch in Tennessee where the vast majority of police stops were of […]

  42. #42 |  Illinois Traffic Stop Of Star Trek Fans Raises Concerns About Drug Searches, Police Dogs, Bad Cops | NEIL ROCKIND, P.C. | 

    […] (the highway is popular for drivers, flush with cash and jewelry, going to and from casinos). A Nashville TV station recently reported on a stretch in Tennessee where the vast majority of police stops were of […]

  43. #43 |  Another Highway Robbery | The Agitator | 

    […] New Channel 5 continues to do great work on this topic (and in general, actually). One of their previous reports on forfeiture in Tennessee noted that the vast majority of drug stops on Tennessee interstates were […]

  44. #44 |  Another Highway Robbery « When Tennessee Pigs Fly | 

    […] New Channel 5 continues to do great work on this topic (and in general, actually). One of their previous reports on forfeiture in Tennessee noted that the vast majority of drug stops on Tennessee interstates […]

  45. #45 |  Militant Libertarian » Another Highway Robbery | 

    […] New Channel 5 continues to do great work on this topic (and in general, actually). One of their previous reports on forfeiture in Tennessee noted that the vast majority of drug stops on Tennessee interstates […]

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