This statement was made by a deputy who is part of a program in South Carolina known as Operation Rolling Thunder. The Operation is called a “highway interdiction” mission to intercept drugs, drug money, other contraband, along with those transporting them. Driving infractions like failing to signal, following too closely, or speeding give deputies a reason to stop the driver and ultimately search the vehicle. No arrest or ticket has to be issued in order for cash or other property to be confiscated as “probable cause” of a possible crime. But what is the crime and what happens to the money taken?
“Civil asset forfeiture is a due process violation, and it always has been,” Rep. Justin Amash, L-Mich., said Thursday. “Its history is riddled with injustices not because it’s a valid practice that gets misused, but because its central premise—denying people their procedural rights—is inherently flawed.”
Gary E. Matthews, 78, and Monte J. Brannan, 67, both of Peoria, are charged with mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and money laundering. The 67-years old suspect faces an additional three counts of concealment of bankruptcy assets. It is unclear if they have acquired legal representation.
A man from Sussex County, New Jersey, is accused of fraudulently obtaining a loan of over $5 million from a federal COVID-19 relief program meant to help American businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Azhar Sarwar Rana, 30, of Newton, New Jersey, is charged with one count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering. He was considered a flight risk and was ordered held without bail. It is unclear if he has acquired legal representation.
Stacy Jones of Tampa, Florida was stripped of more than $40,000 cash at a North Carolina airport in 2020 when TSA agents didn’t believe it was legally hers. The accused said she often traveled with cash on gambling trips, as there is no law limiting how much cash travelers can carry on flights in the US. This time, though, the cash was turned over to DEA agents with no one ever accusing her of doing anything illegal.
This law enforcement practice is called civil asset forfeiture. Using it, TSA and DEA agents can seize money or property from citizens without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Most of the confiscated money ends up in the coffers of state governments and is never returned to its owner.