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Articles Tagged with heroin

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drugs-2793133_1920-300x200In 2016, Ambioris Cruz was in a Nissan Murano SUV together with Jose Veloz in Reading, Pennsylvania. With them in the car were $5,000 in cash and several bags of drugs. They were waiting for one of their associates to show. They were waiting to make a drug deal.

What Cruz and Veloz didn’t know was that the police had turned their associate against them. Law enforcement officers were observing from a distance. When the time was right, the police rushed in. They arrested the pair and seized the SUV, cash, and drugs.
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supreme-court-546279_1920-300x195On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case which could transform civil asset forfeiture in America. Groups from across the political spectrum presented briefs opposing civil asset forfeiture, asserting that civil forfeiture hurts business and is an affront to civil liberties.

Earlier this year, I reported on the case of Tyson Timbs. In 2013, he was arrested for selling four grams of heroin to an undercover police officer in Indiana. He was sentenced to five years of probation and a year of home arrest. Additionally, he paid legal fees in excess of $1,200 and attended a court-supervised drug treatment program.
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In April, I reported on the case of Tyson Timbs. Back then, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the 2013 seizure of his car using the process known as civil asset forfeiture. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear his case and determine whether the vehicle should be returned to him.

Tyson had been living in Ohio for years, struggling with addiction. After a work injury, he became addicted to opioids. Later, he turned to heroin. Then his Aunt Wendy fell ill. Tyson moved to Marion, Indiana to look after her.
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In 2016, law enforcement in Chicago pulled over Spencer Bird. Spencer was not charged with any crime, yet the police seized his Cadillac DeVille and began civil asset forfeiture proceedings on it. Spencer went to court to reclaim his vehicle, but despite winning the case in August 2017, city authorities have still not released it. It has been two years since the vehicle was seized.

Spencer works as a carpenter in Harvey, a suburb of southern Chicago where more than one third of the population lives below the poverty line. Until his car was taken, Spencer also worked as a mechanic. Repairing cars had been a passion since he was a teen.
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A case of civil asset forfeiture involving a Hoosier’s seized Land Rover may end up on the U.S. Supreme Court’s docket. If they agree to hear the case, it could transform the approach of law enforcement to civil asset forfeiture across the nation.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process where law enforcement can seize property suspected of being involved in a crime. It is legal in most states, and few states require a criminal conviction for the property to be seized. Proceeds from the profits of civil asset forfeiture are often used to fund law enforcement, leading to accusations of policing for profit. Continue reading