Let me begin by saying this: Any government elected, appointed or hired official who supports civil asset forfeiture should be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail. This family had their life savings stolen – yes, fucking stolen- by an illegitimate act of a government gone mad. Excerpt:
Rustem Kazazi, 64, was headed to his native Albania to visit relatives in October, according to a federal lawsuit that he, his wife, Lejla, and son, Erald, filed this week in Ohio against the agency and others.
The suit alleges Customs and Border Protection used civil forfeiture laws to take the money without arresting or charging anyone with a crime.
Kazazi had planned to spend six months in Albania and buy a vacation home for retirement on the Adriatic coast, according to court documents. He also wanted to help members of his extended family, who are struggling, the court documents said.
To make the transactions easier and avoid bank fees, he reduced his family’s life savings to cash, packed it in a carry-on and brought it with him to the airport, according to the family’s lawsuit.
“He counted the cash several times, separated it into three stacks of $20,000, $19,100 and $19,000 each, and then, after counting again, labeled each stack with the amount it contained. He then placed the three stacks in a single envelope and wrote ‘$58,100’ on the outside,” the documents state.
Transportation Security Administration agents spotted the money inside Kazazi’s bag as he went through security on October 27 at Cleveland’s airport to catch a flight to Newark, New Jersey, before flying out to Albania, according to court documents. TSA called Customs and Border Protection agents, who took Kazazi’s passport and driver’s license, according to the filing.
He was put in a small private room for a body search, the documents state.
Kazazi speaks limited English, according to the lawsuit.
Customs agents “interrogated him without a translator, and then seized his family’s life savings without charging anyone with a crime,” according to the Institute for Justice, whose attorney, Wesley Hottot, is representing the Kazazi family in the lawsuit.
So, Mr. Kazazi – who is in the United States legally, legally worked and contributed to our economy and his community, wanted to take some of the resources he earned back to his country of origin to buy a home their and oh, by the way, help his family. His resources. Resources he earned, legally.
And government officials just seized the money. Because fuck you, that’s why.
In what sane world are civil forfeiture laws not a gross violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments? Mr. Kazazi was subjected to an unwarranted search, and had a considerable amount of property, the aforementioned $58,100, stolen by agents of the Imperial government with no due process. Giving him a receipt for an unspecified amount of U.S. currency was just adding insult to injury.
This kind of horseshit should have been slam-dunked by the courts years ago. Why hasn’t it been?
One my suspect the answer: A court decision against this practice would dry up a big source of unearned increment (excrement?) for various levels of government.
If you’ve ever looked for reasons to strip government of power, this practice should be high up on the list.