Virginia State Police seized $28,000 in cash from Victor Guzman during a routine traffic stop on I-95 near Emporia, Va., in 2001. The church secretary was driving with his brother-in-law, Jose Jeronimo Sorto, to ferry the cash, donated by churchgoers, to Atlanta to buy land for a new house of worship in El Salvador.Let's pray the police officers involved were not "God-fearing men", otherwise, they're going to need to do some serious repenting to save their souls from the pit of Hell.
The trooper never charged the men with a crime. But he turned the cash over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on the suspicion it was drug money.
Guzman only won return of the churchgoers' donations after a protracted legal struggle.
What am I saying? Pigs are animals, and animals don't have souls!
In all seriousness, even though this incident happened over a decade ago and has only recently been corrected, this is hardly an isolated incident. There have been innumerable cases of cops seizing people's property without charging the owner for a crime or even taking them to court.
But how can the police get away with that? After all, the Fourth Amendment protects us from such "unreasonable searches and seizures," right?
Well, there's a loophole. It's called "administrative forfeiture," and it's a method that allows law enforcement to seize property without arrest, charge, or court approval.
This legal method turns common law on its head, forcing the owner to prove his innocence in order to regain his seized property, when in normal situations, law enforcement has to prove their guilt before seizing their property.
What's worse is that federal agencies can utilize such methods without any transparency whatsoever. Using the Freedom of Information Act, Hearst Newspapers has made data requests of four agencies with such seizure power. None of them have replied to these requests.
Just as with taxation and eminent domain, administrative forfeiture is merely another sneaky way for the state to circumvent Constitutional protection in order to violate our property rights.
And fortunately, there are plenty of people like the Institute for Justice who are fighting against this egregious aberration of our property rights. The aforementioned case was one such victory. But even then, there are still plenty of cases which have not been brought to justice. Only time will tell whether justice will be served.
Of course, the first step in addressing these violations of our property rights is recognizing we have property rights to begin with. Unfortunately, a good portion of the population--specifically those on the left--deny such rights exist, and as long as they do, these violations will only continue to pile up.