This news site has railed for years against civil asset forfeiture – which is another term for government stealing your money and property without due process.
“South Carolina’s legislature needs to move quickly to protect its citizens from the unconstitutional government theft of their property,” we wrote four years ago.
In the intervening years, we have provided specific examples of what we believe to be civil asset forfeiture abuse. This year we are pleased to report that – thanks to an ongoing series by The Greenville News – this problem is finally receiving some long-overdue attention at the state level.
Good … it is about time.
Given our views on this subject – along with our general disdain for government’s demonstrably failed “War on Drugs” – it might surprise some readers to discover that we are open to a proposal by U.S. senator Ted Cruz of Texas to pay for part of U.S. president Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexican border with seized funds from a narcotics operation.
Trump is in the process of declaring a national emergency as a means of appropriating $6.5 billion towards the border wall – which would be on top of an estimated $1.4 billion appropriated by the U.S. congress as part of its latest stopgap spending resolution. The total cost of the wall is projected at around $25-30 billion.
Cruz’s idea? He wants to take an estimated $14 billion in “drug profits and other assets” from the empire of former Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán, a.k.a. “El Chapo,” and use it for the wall.
Which would be the closest thing we have seen yet to “making Mexico pay for the wall,” a.k.a. Trump’s signature 2016 campaign promise.
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Guzmán, 61, was extradited to the United States on January 19, 2017 – the day before Trump took office. Earlier this week he was convicted on multiple federal, drug-related charges and is currently awaiting sentencing on those charges.
According to federal prosecutors, Guzmán “oversaw the smuggling of narcotics to wholesale distributors in Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and elsewhere.”
“The billions of illicit dollars generated from drug sales in the United States were then clandestinely transported back to Mexico,” they alleged.
Jurors agreed …
Guzmán is likely to receive a lifetime prison sentence for his crimes – with one possible destination being the so-called “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” which is another name for the U.S. Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility (ADX) located in Fremont, Colorado.
Obviously, it will be awhile before Guzmán’s appeals are exhausted – which is the only point at which this news outlet would endorse any form of civil asset forfeiture in his (or any other) case.
Cruz has made no secret of his designs on this money. In April of 2017, he introduced the “Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order” – a.k.a. the EL CHAPO – act. No doubt about who that legislation was targeting, huh?
Well, possibly … eventually.
Again, in light of the rampant abuse of civil asset forfeiture at all levels of government (all over the country), we are exceedingly reticent to support any sort of “collection of assets” – even for a foreign national/ former drug kingpin who has been convicted of some incredibly heinous crimes.
Having said that, Cruz’s idea is not without merit …
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