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Cleveland Authorities Pursue $5 Million in Civil Asset Forfeiture Case

pexels-ekaterina-bolovtsova-6077447-300x200Authorities in Cleveland, Ohio are using civil asset forfeiture to seize more than $5 million worth of property they suspect was purchased from the proceeds of a drug trafficking organization.

The federal attorneys who filed the forfeiture request cited several real estate properties, including two upscale houses in Los Angeles, a 10,000 square-foot manor in Moreland Hills’ Mountain View Drive, and four properties located in South Euclid. Other assets in the breakdown were $2.2 million in cash, a 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo, several high-priced watches, a boat, and a bar of gold. Based on the report, these assets were allegedly bought from the gains of the drug trafficking scheme.

Further details in the document stated that the suspected drug trafficking scheme was operated through the distribution of vape cartridges containing THC, a concentrate of marijuana. The suspects partly owned Dank Vapes and Dankweed, popular brands of vape cartridges that sell nationwide. Through these brands, they allegedly sold THC cartridges from $30 to $45 each. Marijuana is now legal for recreational use in many states, although it is still illegal in Ohio.

According to the document, more than $4 million was wired to one of the named individuals last spring and summer. Additionally, the Moreland Hills manor included in the seizure complaint was paid for by a business the suspect was affiliated with. Tibor’s Kosher Meats, a business venture co-owned by one of the named individuals and a family member, was allegedly involved as an outlet the accused used to liquidate their gains from the suspected drug ring.

The investigation is still ongoing, but the federal government has already filed to forfeit the properties mentioned above. Ohio’s civil asset forfeiture laws were rated with a D minus by the Institute for Justice, which ranks the state 43rd in federal forfeitures. Authorities need only prove a preponderance of evidence to seize property they suspect is being used to commit crimes or was purchased using the gains from criminal activities. The state government places the burden to prove individual innocence on the owners of forfeited property. Law enforcement agencies can also keep all of the proceeds from these forfeitures.

With these laws in place, the federal government was able to file a complaint to seize the assets of the accused in this new drug-related case. As of March 12, 2021, the two individuals accused of peddling THC in vape cartridges have not been charged with a crime, but the request to take their property has already been filed.

Civil asset forfeiture has been legitimized as a system targeted to prevent and deter crimes related to drugs. It is strongly opposed by property rights activists who see it as nothing but a money-making machine for law enforcement agencies. Cases like these, however, that aim to catch individuals suspected of being part of criminal organizations begs the question of whether statutes that allow the government to take property are inherently detrimental. The fact is, the investigation on this case needs to be finished first to conclude whether the authorities employed civil asset forfeiture fairly or not.

Nationwide Federal Civil Asset Forfeiture Attorney

Has law enforcement taken your property using civil forfeiture? Contact Brian Silber, P.A. to set up a free initial consultation and get the assistance of a nationwide federal civil asset forfeiture attorney.

Source: 3.12.21Prosecutors in Cleveland seek more than $5 million in assets through forfeiture.pdf

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