DEA Takes $16,000 From Train Passenger Because It Can

from the no-due-process-for-dead-presidents dept

There were no drugs and nothing to enforce, but that didn’t stop the Drug Enforcement Agency from taking $16,000 from a passenger on a train headed to California.

After scraping together enough money to produce a music video in Hollywood, 22-year-old Joseph Rivers set out last month on a train trip from Michigan to Los Angeles, hoping it was the start of something big.

Rivers changed trains at the Amtrak station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on April 15, with bags containing his clothes, other possessions and an envelope filled with the $16,000 in cash he had raised with the help of his family, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration got on after him and began looking for people who might be trafficking drugs.

Rivers said the agents questioned passengers at random, asking for their destination and reason for travel. When one of the agents got to Rivers, who was the only black person in his car, according to witnesses, the agent took the interrogation further, asking to search his bags. Rivers complied. The agent found the cash — still in a bank envelope — and decided to seize it on suspicion that it may be tied to narcotics. River pleaded with the agents, explaining his situation and even putting his mother on the phone to verify the story.

No luck.

Leaving aside the unsavory hint of racial profiling, there’s the fact that the DEA helped itself to cash simply because it was cash. It had no reason to suspect Rivers of anything, but the money was apparently too much to pass up. Even having his story corroborated was useless. And, sure, the DEA agents had no reason to believe anyone Rivers put them in touch with was a trustworthy source of information. (After all, he’s some sort of drug dealer, right?) But to grant the DEA the benefit of the doubt for its refusal to believe Rivers’ mother’s statements is to cut the agents an absurd amount of slack for everything preceding that.

Because what did the DEA actually have here? A young guy and $16,000 in cash. According to the DEA’s own statements, it doesn’t need anything more than that to effect an asset seizure. And, according to the DEA’s own statements, it has no reason to bother with anything more than a cursory look that “confirms” what it wants it to confirm.

[Sean] Waite [DEA – Albuquerque] said that in general DEA agents look for “indicators” such as whether the person bought an expensive one-way ticket with cash, if the person is traveling from or to a city known as a hot spot for drug activity, if the person’s story has inconsistencies or if the large sums of money found could have been transported by more conventional means.

If we leave it to the DEA to define drug activity “hot spots,” it becomes any destination any traveler is headed to, especially if there’s seizable cash involved. As for story inconsistencies, we’re back to “eye of the beholder” territory. If agents are motivated to perform asset seizures, any story can be found to have enough flaws to justify the forfeiture. Waite’s statement is very unhelpful, other than to show how completely screwed up asset forfeiture programs are.

As if on cue — and as if the DEA’s Sean Waite is completely unaware of the level of scrutiny and negative public opinion centered on asset forfeiture programs — he delivers the most tone-deaf of talking points:

“We don’t have to prove that the person is guilty,” Waite said. “It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty.”

Boom. There’s your problem. Or rather, Rivers’ problem. And the problem of far too many Americans who made the mistake of leaving home with cash on their person. The government doesn’t need to prove shit. It can just take and take and take and force those wronged by its “presumptions” to jump through multiple expensive and mostly futile hoops if they hope to recover their “guilty” belongings.

So, what do you tell people like Rivers? “Don’t carry cash?” Cash is universal and accepted everywhere. But it’s also apparently inherently guilty. Just don’t carry large amounts of cash? From Virginia’s asset forfeiture stats:

Contrary to the oft-stated defense that these programs are necessary to cripple powerful drug lords and multimillion dollar fraudsters, more than half the cash seized from 2001-2006 fell in the $614-1,288 range and the average worth of vehicles seized has hovered at about $6,000.

And Philadelphia, PA’s:

A City Paper review of 100 cases from 2011 and 2012 found the median amount of cash seized by the District Attorney was only $178.

Any cash is inherently suspicious and can be deemed “guilty” by the seizing agency with no corroborating evidence. $16,000 has just made its way into the DEA’s funds and if Rivers wants it back, he’s likely going to lose a great deal of it to legal fees. He’s currently trying to raise the money the DEA took from him via crowdfunding site GoFundMe. Hopefully, he’ll get another chance to make his music video without being sidelined by government agents looking to bust some “guilty” cash.

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Comments on “DEA Takes $16,000 From Train Passenger Because It Can”

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Ninja (profile) says:

So money got seized unjustly, media coverage and outrage ensued. I’ll risk a prediction based on the many, many cases that we’ve seen before: nothing will happen, nobody will be held accountable, it will happen again. And again. And again…

As it does with a whole lot of abuses. The question still remains: if the Govt couldn’t care less about the people and the official channels won’t suffice to fix things then what should the people do?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is why things like Ferguson, NY, Boston, and now Mississippi are happening. People are getting tired of it, law enforcement are literally painting a huge target on their backs by ignoring the constitution.

If the people do not feel like they will be treated fairly then they will treat you unfairly back!

Padpaw (profile) says:

Re: Re:

haven’t you seen the whole spiel the DHS has been going on lately about how only terrorists carry and pay in cash. That if you see someone making purchases over 100 dollars in cash you should report it because “SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING”

True Americans use heavily debited credit cards.

I wish to god I was making this up.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s would be ‘all of them’, you are on all of the various watchlists due to your actions. Don’t feel too bad about it though, these days not being on at least a few watchlists would be the remarkable bit, given how insanely vague and nebulous the definitions of ‘terrorists’ and ‘enemy’ are.

velox (profile) says:

Re: Re: Just how "lucky" was the DEA agent who found this cash?

1) This traveller’s bank was required to submit a record of his cash withdrawal.
2) He was required to produce valid photo ID when he purchased his Amtrak ticket.
3) DHS believes any large cash transaction is potentially evidence of drug-money laundering and/or tax-evasion until proven otherwise.

In view of the above, there is no reason I can think of to discount the possibility that the bank and travel information might have been pulled together by DHS software, and an alert triggered to send the DEA to investigate.
If you think that is paranoia, consider that “monitoring of suspicious activity” is exactly what the government has been saying they are trying to do when they spend millions of our tax dollars on ‘big data’ tracking programs like Palantir.

The possibility for unethical and unconstitutional targeted abuse is exactly why I get concerned when government, and in particular law enforcement, starts talking about the benefits of big data.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Just how "lucky" was the DEA agent who found this cash?

Both 1 & 2 tend to show that the individual was NOT up to something nefarious. Why would a drug dealer leave such an evidence trail behind?

As for 3, it would probably cost more than the $16,000 taken to prove that cash innocent.

On the other hand, who said anyone in government was intelligent?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Just how "lucky" was the DEA agent who found this cash?

I believe what they were trying to point out is that 1&2 would allow anyone with access to the records to know that a given person was travelling with a large amount of money, while #3 gives them their justification to ‘seize’ it when they ‘accidentally’ discover it.

As for this:

As for 3, it would probably cost more than the $16,000 taken to prove that cash innocent.

That’s one of the large reasons they feel so safe stealing from the public so blatantly, because they know people would often be better off financially just accepting the loss of property/money, rather than fighting back.

If a cop steals $100 from you by claiming it’s ‘drug related funds’, and you know it would take at least $150 to get it back… yeah, at that point most people are just going to drop it and move on, and the police and government agencies involved in robbery at badge-point know it.

Dice says:

Re: Re: Re:

Please post some links about the DHS asking people to “SAY SOMETHING” when they see a fellow citizen make a purchase over $100 in cash. Those are the types of things I include in my e-mail when I contact government reps (state and federal senators, congressmen and women, the President, etc.). I’m not naive. I doubt things will get better, but for the sake of our country we must speak up and try to be heard. Things have become so despotic I fear that change will only come in the violent wake of a citizen uprising. We have far more people in prison per capita than any country in the world. Not even per capita we have more prisoners than China, and the Chinese government isn’t exactly afraid to put people in prison. We’ve been stripped of our rights for a war on drugs that has become nothing but a political tag line (Tough on Crime = I’ll put people in jail for many years for carrying a dime bag). Habeas Corpus has been suspended. You don’t even need to be carrying cash to have assets stolen by the government. You can have your house, cars and bank accounts stolen because your teenager is caught with a few joints, then they decide he must have been dealing from your house.

It’s so ridiculous how shredded the constitution has become that I don’t know how to explain to my own children what our country represents, or rather doesn’t represent any longer.

May we save us from ourselves!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They might shoot them with or without it these days, so what is your point?

There are a lot of cases where police have been shoot and sometimes killed in no knock raids.

Carrying firearms in defense of yourself is exactly what the 2nd is about, including from law enforcement… go and read up on the constitution and why the founders put it there. They are damn fucking clear to the point that only a cognitively dissonant liberal and dumb fucking conservative would confuse it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Jason says:

Re: Re:

It’s not even just the Fourth…

Amendment V:

“No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Amendment XIV:

“…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…”

Why there aren’t grounds for a massive (and successful) legal complaint against the state/federal government over asset “forfeiture” programs is beyond my comprehension.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ah; that makes me wonder: if it was Canadian dollars or Mexican pesos, would the cash grab suddenly be illegal? Because the US government confiscating IOUs on US government funds is one thing… but confiscating IOUs belonging to foreign countries is something else altogether.

Of course, anything over $10k of foreign currency is considered “reasonable suspicion” these days, so maybe they’d just arrest the person instead.

johnvanvliet (profile) says:

Amendment IV

But you see it is the CASH that is “guilty”
therefor the CASH is a person

they took into custody the “person/CASH$$$”

i think this is perfect for the age old
“prisoner exchange “

take 16,000 in DEA property “prisoner”
and do a PUBLIC!!!!! exchange of the “cash” prisoner for say the “DEA car” prisoner

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Not that I think the DEA is in the right

“the only correct answer to a LEO asking to search your belongings is “if you have a warrant”.”

No, the only correct answer to a LEO asking to search your belongings is “no”. If they have a warrant, they won’t be asking for permission.

If you refuse the search and they do it anyway, you shouldn’t try to stop them. That’s the sort of thing that will get you shot or beat up. Instead, you should make a big stink about it in court.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: So it's come to this.

Law enforcement has conducted themselves such that we no longer respect their legitimacy (with good reason), but instead only cooperate because they have more force than we do.

So essentially, Law enforcement has no legitimacy and is only a street gang that happens to be subsidized by taxes.

Maybe it’s time to challenge that subsidy.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Not that I think the DEA is in the right

Absolutely, but that would have just increased their suspicion and made him more of a target.

And he’s probably one of those people that thinks since they’ve done nothing wrong, they have nothing to worry about. After all, cops in the U.S. don’t steal like the ones in third world countries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not that I think the DEA is in the right

After all, cops in the U.S. don’t steal like the ones in third world countries.

Exactly. That kind of theft is technically corruption in third world countries. In the U.S., it’s all nice and legal, as the DEA spokesman explained.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The agent found the cash — still in a bank envelope — and decided to seize it on suspicion that it may be tied to narcotics”

So when are they expected to charge the (obviously easily identified) bank with facilitating and participating in these same illegal activities ?? Why have they not seized all the bank’s cash on hand ?? Hmm ?? Hmm ??

JustShutUpAndObey says:

Re: Cartel Banks

“So when are they expected to charge the (obviously easily identified) bank with facilitating and participating in these same illegal activities ?? Why have they not seized all the bank’s cash on hand ?? Hmm ?? Hmm ??”

Of course we know why, but I would love to see this happen. It would at least be easier to justify given the big bank’s history of knowingly laundering drug cartel money.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don't give up your rights.

Never let them search your bags:

Q: “May I search your bags, sir?”

A: “No, you may not.”

Never open your bags for police, unless so required:

Q: “Would you open your bag for me, sir?”

A: “No. Not without a warrant.”

Don’t provide information you’re not required to provide by law:

Q: What is your name, sir?

A: [provide your name]

Q: Where are you headed?

A: My travel plans are my own business. I will not say anything further without a lawyer present.

Jack says:

Re: Don't give up your rights.

There is a practical problem here that appears in the real world – if the cops really want to search you, your refusal and constitutional rights certainly aren’t going to get in their way.

You just may end up with a few broken bones, a couple felony charges, and tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical and legal bills. And you will still get searched.

At the end of the day they have guns and the power to arrest, beat, or even kill you and you have a 200 year old piece of paper the Supreme Court has been tearing away at for just as long.

If you are white and aren’t poor, you can easily assert your rights. If you are black and poor you may only end up with the choice of licking the boot or having it stomp on your neck.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Don't give up your rights.

According to the numbers, more whites die by cop than blacks.

However it is also clear that when it comes to percent of the population there are about five times more whites than blacks.

Do not assume that a white guy will be okay in front of a cop… its more associated with your ability to afford justice, not your race. It just so happens that cops are in areas where crime is high and it also just so happens that there are a lot of minorities in those areas too.

We are definitely in a police state. To change this we need to be focusing on judges, DA’s and Elected officials. That is how you get dirt bag cops out of here.

Jack says:

Re: Re: Re: Don't give up your rights.

I never said a white guy would be okay in front of a cop – I said a white guy with money. If you are poor, it doesn’t matter if you are black, white, brown, yellow, or red (any color except blue), you are not assumed to be safe in front of the police.

If you are white and have money, it would be an anomaly to be killed, even if you are black and have lots of money (assuming you aren’t perceived as “uppity” to the cop).

Nobody will elect politicians, judges, or DAs that aren’t “tough on crime”

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Re: Don't give up your rights.

It doesn’t matter. If you go follow those rules, they just bring in the drug dog.

And since almost all cash is contaminated with drugs, the dog will detect it and…bye, bye, money! (And that assumes they aren’t teaching the dogs to indicate on cash itself, which they could do and probably are.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Our Tax Dollars At Work

As far as I know the DEA is not required to uphold the constitution. In fact almost no officer of the law is ever been asked for an oath to uphold it.

Funny right?

I mean, if you wanted a band of criminal element would you ask them to swear an oath to uphold something like a constitution?

You just do not do things you are not required to do.

Personanongrata says:

Re: Re: Our Tax Dollars At Work

An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” This section does not affect other oaths required by law.

Anonymous Coward says:

I always woundered if you just replied with sign language to all of their responses and just handed them a card that reads “pleas write as I do not read lips” hpw they would respond. I figure most would just give up and leave instead of trying to find an asl interpreter. is there a law that says you have to use english if you can?

Padpaw (profile) says:

We don’t have to prove this is the most corrupt US administration to date, we know it by their constant illegal actions. or acting in that the laws do not apply to themselves.

Police state of course if that wasn’t mentioned yet. where those in power get treated differently from everyone else instead of everyone supposed to be treated equally under god

Anonymous Coward says:

Surely if he just sues them for theft of earnings he could take them to the cleaners, sue them for wrongful search and seizure and theft of money which if it is not his must say so in court and as it is money it cannot say anything. I am surprised that more Americans have not revolted against their government for these types of acts, If this happened in the UK the whole world would be reading about it and it would be headline news in every newspaper.

Jack says:

Re: Re:

The whole world IS reading about this… every few weeks an absurd, over the top civil-forfeiture case is in the news. Each one more egregious than the last and it is covered extensively. People just don’t care…

The people who have their money and property taken can’t sue the government for any of that stuff, all they can do is try to prove their property isn’t “illegal”… And if they are one of the few lucky ones who can do so in court, they are more likely to owe more money to their lawyer than was seized in the first place.

Not enough of us Americans give a shit about the Constitution, none of our politicians or judges give a shit about it, and people here adore our police so much that they smile and thank them as they are being fucked in the ass by them.

scotts13 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Not enough of us Americans give a shit about the Constitution, none of our politicians or judges give a shit about it, and people here adore our police so much that they smile and thank them as they are being fucked in the ass by them.”

It’s not that we don’t give a shit, and it’s not that we adore the police. It’s that we are literally powerless before them. The police have guns, the will to use them, and (almost) no repercussions. Resist and you may well die. The courts are no help; they twist and turn the law until whatever they want is legal. The polls? “Lesser of two evils” doesn’t work anymore; neither evil is “lesser” enough.

It will reach a point where it boils over, we’ll have a new government, and (hopefully) another couple of hundred years of relative freedom until we have to do it again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Question...

“Does TSA (or any agency) board an aircraft mid-journey to question passengers?”

Sure! You mean it’s never happened to you? What do you think UFOs are for? Notice the increasing numbers of reported sightings? It correlates perfectly with the increased numbers of TSA agents, and it has long been established that they (TSA) are non-human.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

I* have absolutely no sympathy to this train passenger who was carrying $16,000 in cash. Every time I hear one of these stories about how Americans are getting their cash seized by law enforcement during some vacation while traveling in a vehicle or train, I just think how stupid Americans really are.

Talk to anyone and they will tell you to never carry a large amount of cash with you. Large amounts of cash signal only one thing: criminal enterprise.

You ask the bank for a cashier’s check, money order or transfer the money either through Western Union or whatever. YOU DO NOT TRAVEL WITH A LARGE AMOUNT OF CASH.

Never mind that you could get robbed by someone who knows you’re traveling with a lot of cash. MORONS.

I don’t blame the DEA in this case for any reason. What are they going to do, just take your word for it. If any perfect sense, they would need to do their own investigation. So, train passenger who had his $16k confiscated, GET OVER IT.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What are they going to do, just take your word for it.

What are they going to do? Cook up some suspicion until it’s reasonable? See how much cause they have that approaches probable? Return the money once they’ve ascertained it’s not linked to anything illegal? Maybe arrest the guy if they truly think he’s in the narcotics business?

I don’t know, but maybe anything other than the thing they did.

Jack says:

Re: Re:

How about, you know, doing nothing? Carrying money, regardless of how much, is NOT illegal in any way, shape, or form.

Take a look at the median amounts of money confiscated – it is typically under $500. Is it unreasonable to carry around $500? You can barely even take a family of four out to an upscale restaurant in Manhattan for that much…

What about if you are a business owner who is paid in cash and you are taking it to the bank? Should the DEA be able to take all of your cash every time you are on your way to the bank to make a deposit because it is suspicious? Should every pizza place have to hire an armored car to drop off 10 or 15 grand in cash to the bank after a busy weekend or risk having it seized by the DEA.

Since when is carrying the only official currency of our nation suspicious?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Once you're done licking those boots, make sure to thank the one wearing them

Large amounts of cash signal only one thing: large amounts of cash.

There, fixed that for you.

You ask the bank for a cashier’s check, money order or transfer the money either through Western Union or whatever. YOU DO NOT TRAVEL WITH A LARGE AMOUNT OF CASH.

Correct, because if you do, apparently that’s all it takes to have it stolen by the police or other government agencies.

Never mind that you could get robbed by someone who knows you’re traveling with a lot of cash. MORONS.

Hey, would you look at that, that’s exactly what happened here. He was robbed by someone who discovered he was travelling with a lot of cash, it just happened at badgepoint instead of gunpoint.

What are they going to do, just take your word for it.

Unless they have other evidence other than ‘he has a lot of cash’, yes.

A lot of criminals drive cars, would you support having your car stolen by some badge toting thug on those grounds? No trial, no investigation, just ‘you have a car, criminals use cars, therefore your car is mostly likely used for illegal actions and will be taken.’

So, train passenger who had his $16k confiscated, GET OVER IT.

Stolen, not confiscated, the latter implies that they actually have any interest in returning it, and that they had any real reason to steal it in the first place beyond “That’s a lot of money I’d really love to have”.

You know, as tempting as it is to hope that you would experience something similar, just have something of yours stolen like this with absolutely no recourse available for you to get it back without you being forced to spend a ton of time and money doing so, I’m actually capable of that thing called empathy. I’m not the kind of person who looks at someone who was just robbed, or mugged, or had their car stolen and says ‘Get over it’, as though it’s some minor thing like spilling your drink, and it says a lot about you that you apparently are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Talk to anyone and they will tell you to never carry a large amount of cash with you

And yet, this discussion on this very forum shows you are wrong.

Plenty of Anyone’s here have read articles about cash in the bank being seized and with 0% or even negative interest rates – what is your incentive to keep money in non-cash?

Thugs who go with “Large amounts of cash signal only one thing: criminal enterprise.” are a far bigger problem.

Anonymous Coward says:

1. surprised the DEA didn’t just shoot the guy for being black (since thats basically a punishment-free way to just murder someone because you want their money if you’re part of law enforcement)
2. Also suprised the DEA didn’t try to deport him to a random country, which they’ve done before without warning, warrant or any sort of evidence whatsoever, based on nothing but “he looks like a foreigner”.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

When will it stop?

Don’t get me wrong: First of all, I detest monetary forfeiture. It is a bankrupt concept; the only example under U.S. law where a possession can be taken simply because it is a possession.

Nevertheless, forfeiture is a reality of life; it’s like hurricanes, fire, and flood. You protect yourself from those disasters with insurance. In the case of forfeiture, the protection is simple: Do not carry large amounts of cash. How long does this have to go on before people get that?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: When will it stop?

Or small amounts of cash. Or any cash. Or have any valuable property. Or any interesting property that might catch the eye of the local police. Or own anything at all.

Maybe instead of people just accepting that the police and government agents can and will steal from you at badgepoint(if not gunpoint) if they feel like it, and being careful not to carry cash as a result, maybe those stealing should be told firmly(backed by threat of significant jail-time) that they are not allowed to steal from the public at all.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: You know what is also a "fact of life"? Crime...

…circa 1740.

If you were around a municipality there just were predators all around looking to rob you, or worse. You carried a sword. You traveled with friends. You trusted no stranger. If you were robbed or pickpocketed, you hired a thief-taker to get your belongings back.

Then the Bow Street Runners were founded on Henry Fielding’s notion that maybe crime shouldn’t be a fact of life. With time it became the first professional police force.

You know what doesn’t have to be a fact of life? Police. Society did survive without them. And right now the police are looking worse than the crime that they allegedly are hired to prevent or bring to justice.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Stupidity, or the naive belief that you won’t be robbed blind by government agents while travelling is not a crime last time I checked, and neither is carrying cash, whether $16 or $16,000.

Even if it were however, it still would not justify stealing it on the spot from the owner, without so much as a hint of a trial before the verdict of ‘Guilty’ was handed out.

The only real differences between this case and someone being mugged is the victim wasn’t allowed to fight back, and the robbers had badges, and the fact that you continue to defend the robbers says much about you, none of it good.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Defending the robbers

Just-world hypothesis

Even the Dalai Lama has been known to say natural disaster victims get their just desserts from past-life sins.

We want to believe that the world is just, because to acknowledge that it’s not, and that we have to change it for ourselves (or are powerless to do so) is frustrating and outrageous and ultimately just depressing.

And rather than face such a horrible truth some of us make up fantasies like karma or hellfire, or that things are somehow the way they should be.

Personally, I choose to feel the outrage, even when there is nothing yet to be done.

David says:

Oh nice

[Sean] Waite [DEA – Albuquerque] said that in general DEA agents look for “indicators” such as whether the person bought an expensive one-way ticket with cash,

There is no such thing as an “expensive one-way ticket”. Tickets are priced the same except for first/second class. First class is less of a push-and-shove, which might be a consideration if you carry money and want to avoid getting into tussle/trouble.

And second: why would one buy a one-way ticket in order to conduct drug business? One buys a one-way ticket if one is planning not to come back, at least not in the time frame for a return ticket.

Which is usually the case when you are relocating and/or changing your way of life. Which is not what drug dealers do.

This looks more like a recipe for finding people carrying money than people doing drug business.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

Re: Re:

Don’t take the train either, or use any sort of transportation. Also, don’t be near any cops, but avoiding cops is also suspicious, so you’ll get beat up and/or robbed too. Basically, just wire the contents of your bank account and sign over all your titles to your local police force and bend over whenever you see a cop and you’ll be fine, probably, unless he thinks not having any money is suspicious too.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is when the people need to stick together , If you see something say something ..Right? We the people need to get back to the basics of being humans when you see someone being harassed by LEO’s ..step up especially those familiar with the law (and not for a quick here’s my card call me if you need an attorney) I mean really go to bat for our fellow citizens STOP THE B.S. of conforming to law enforcements guide lines like trained monkeys, we are the people, the citizens who pay their salaries ,It’s law enforcement who should be answering to us and being trained by us.

Anonymous Coward says:

Targeting was probably fully automated

If you consider that the withdrawal would have been filtered by federal transaction monitoring, and that AmTrak passenger manifest is likely also automatically monitored, correlating the two isn’t much more than a small shell script.

In which case you are looking at the shape of things to come for all of us. The “random search” was probably just eyewash to conceal parallel construction. In all probability they knew exactly who and what they were looking for before they boarded.

Unfortunately any inquiry into the matter would likely be quashed considering the silk roads precedent. The 4th and 5th amendments are now mutually exclusive in Federal court. You have to admit guilt before you have a right to discovery.

Anonymous Coward says:

This has got to be another case of profiling Negroes. Foreign-born Oriental-Americans often carry big wads of cash on them, especially business owners. Which would conceivably make them tempting targets for thieves — both the freelancer type and the badge-wearing type. But perhaps due to their widespread reputation as shop-keepers, cops don’t seem to bother Orientals very much (Or if they do, it seems to go largely unreported).

Anonymous Coward says:

The sad part is that if he stood up for his rights and refused to allow his bags to be searched, the officers would have been unable to then trample on his other rights by taking his possessions.

The people who say “If you have nothing to hide, let the officers search” would quickly change their tune once this happened to them too. He had nothing to hide, still lost.

Dice says:

DEA Asset Theft

Here is my take on our new Miranda rights:

You have the right to remain broke. Anything you do or say will be construed as an inconsistency and twisted into some kind of cause to search and retain your assets. You have the right to look like you can’t afford an attorney to fight to have your assets returned. If you can afford an attorney, you have the right be stripped of your obviously guilty assets for no discernible reason whatsoever until you cannot afford one.

I’m betting that when they search travelers, such as Mr. Rivers that they don’t search First Class airline passengers who would likely be carrying more cash than I make in several months. Anyone on their way to NYC, Miami, Chicago or L.A. is obviously going there for drugs after all, but like schoolyard bullies the DEA doesn’t pick fights with anyone who can fight back.

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