Quote of the Day: New Mexico Cops Conspire to Steal 2008 Mercedes “We Could Own the City”

This is what happens when government bureaucrats pass laws legalizing theft from the public under the fancy phrase titled “Asset Forfeiture”…

Submitted by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg

police state

He describes to a roomful of local officials from across the state how Las Cruces police officers waited outside a bar for a man they hoped would walk out drunk because they “could hardly wait” to get their hands on his 2008 Mercedes, which they then hoped to put up for auction.

“We could be czars,” he tells the room. “We could own the city. We could be in the real estate business.”

– From the NPR article: Police Can Seize And Sell Assets Even When The Owner Broke No Law

The above quotes refer to statements made by Harry S. Connelly, the city attorney of Las Cruces, N.M., in a video posted over the weekend by the New York Times. His comments refer to the feudal and tyrannical tactic known as civil asset forfeiture, in which police across these United States are allowed to intentionally steal citizens’ property based on “suspicion” alone, without charging them with a crime. This topic has as been a key theme on this site all year. In fact, one of my most popular posts of 2014 was: “Common People Do Not Carry This Much U.S. Currency…” – This is How Police Justify Stealing American Citizens’ Money. If you never read that post, or saw John Oliver’s hilarious video, I suggest checking it out.

When I first saw the headline to the latest article on the subject, I didn’t rush to read it since I feel I have covered the subject enough recently. Nevertheless, when I did get around to reading it, I realized it needed to be highlighted. The practice is so insidious and evil it must be dealt away with immediately. Particularly since it has been growing exponentially since the turn of the millennium. Another awful thing to happen within America since the “war on terror” began.

From the New York Times:

It is difficult to tell how much has been seized by state and local law enforcement, but under a Justice Department program, the value of assets seized has ballooned to $4.3 billion in the 2012 fiscal year from $407 million in 2001. Much of that money is shared with local police forces.

That almost makes the expansion in the Federal Reserve balance sheet look modest.

The practice of civil forfeiture has come under fire in recent months, amid a spate of negative press reports and growing outrage among civil rights advocates, libertarians and members of Congress who have raised serious questions about the fairness of the practice, which critics say runs roughshod over due process rights. In one oft-cited case, a Philadelphia couple’s home was seized after their son made $40 worth of drug sales on the porch. Despite that opposition, many cities and states are moving to expand civil seizures of cars and other assets.The seminars, some of which were captured on video, raise a curtain on how law enforcement officials view the practice.

Once again, as proved in a recent academic study, in an oligarchy such as the U.S., it doesn’t really matter what the citizens want.

From Orange County, N.Y., to Rio Rancho, N.M., forfeiture operations are being established or expanded. In September, Albuquerque, which has long seized the cars of suspected drunken drivers, began taking them from men suspected of trying to pick up prostitutes, landing seven cars during a one-night sting.

 In the Georgia session, the prosecutor leading the talk boasted that he had helped roll back a Republican-led effort to reform civil forfeiture in Georgia, where seized money has been used by the authorities, according to news reports, to pay for sports tickets, office parties, a home security system and a $90,000 sports car.

Prosecutors boasted in the sessions that seizure cases were rarely contested or appealed. But civil forfeiture places the burden on owners, who must pay court fees and legal costs to get their property back. Many seizures go uncontested because the property is not worth the expense.

Remember, these are the people who are supposed to be guardians of the law. In practice, they are nothing more than greedy thugs on a power trip.

And often the first hearing is presided over not by a judge but by the prosecutor whose office benefits from the proceeds, and who has wide discretion in deciding whether to forfeit the property or return it, sometimes in exchange for a steep fine.

Yes, a prosecutor. Like the one who was boasting that seizure cases are rarely contested, or the one who boasted about rolling back reform measures in Georgia. Classy.

Mr. McMurtry said his handling of a case is sometimes determined by department wish lists. “If you want the car, and you really want to put it in your fleet, let me know — I’ll fight for it,” Mr. McMurtry said, addressing law enforcement officials on the video. “If you don’t let me know that, I’ll try and resolve it real quick through a settlement and get cash for the car, get the tow fee paid off, get some money for it.”

Now let’s revisit the quote from the NPR article: “We could be czars,” he tells the room. “We could own the city. We could be in the real estate business.”

This is important, because it demonstrates a cultural degradation I have been warning about for years. When the ranks of the people at the very top, politicians, bankers, corporate titans are filled with corrupt sociopaths who never face criminal charges and continue to enrich themselves, it encourages thugs at all levels of society. We are seeing it most clearly within police departments and prosecutors. Notice the use of the word “czar.”

This is an extremely dangerous development, and one that should not be dismissed. If this cancer of corruption is not removed, it will continue to spread and kill the entire society.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger