Has the “War on Drugs” become a secret war on private property? This “war” is a war with vague rules of engagement and little obvious success in reducing drug use. It offers the rather perverse incentive that law enforcement can collect “spoils of war” in the form of property confiscation, even if it harms innocent people. A wife might not know her husband is dealing drugs but she and her children could wind up homeless if the house is raided. The property might even be destroyed in the raid, and even if property is destroyed during a “wrong address” raid the government has no liability to compensate innocent victims. You might not know a friend is dealing drugs but if he’s caught in your car you could lose it. A person traveling with a large amount of cash can find it seized “on suspicion” without other evidence of drug-related activity, and getting it back means hiring a lawyer to file an expensive lawsuit. Why do laws provide for spoils of war under the name of “Civil Asset Forfeiture”? Even the military can’t loot captured territory.
Parts of these laws also seek to stop money laundering by requiring banks to report deposits over $10,000. The law also prohibits “structuring” by making regular deposits of lesser amounts to avoid that reporting rule. If the IRS sees regular deposits into an account of somewhat lesser amounts it can confiscate the account without due process and without any evidence of criminal activity. It is then up to the depositor to prove innocence rather than the government to prove guilt. A simple reality is that small businesses make frequent deposits of lesser amounts just because they don’t want to keep a lot of money around to entice robbers. Another reality is that, thanks to pervasive drug abuse, a significant portion of our currency is contaminated with drug residue that can be used as evidence against innocent people. Can’t those high paid desk jockeys figure that out or are they just enjoying a power trip?
A fundamental principle of our legal system is “innocent until proven guilty”. The drug war shouldn’t be exempt from that concept.