Charles Clarke was reportedly a recreational smoker of marijuana at the time his assets were seized. He spent five years saving up the money.
The Washington Post reports:
In February 2014, Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport seized $11,000 in cash from 24-year-old college student Charles Clarke. They didn't find any guns, drugs or contraband on him. But, according to an affidavit filled out by one of the agents, the task force officers reasoned that the cash was the proceeds of drug trafficking, because Clarke was traveling on a recently-purchased one-way ticket, he was unable to provide documentation for where the money came from, and his checked baggage had an odor of marijuana. (He was a marijuana smoker.)
Though he was never charged with a crime, the DEA allegedly took Clarke's cash, which says he he spent five years saving up, under civil asset forfeiture.
According to the Washington Post, two local agencies were reportedly involved in the seizure of Clarke's cash: the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport Police, and the Covington Police Department, which is the home office of the DEA task force officer who detained and spoke with Clarke.
Now, 11 additional law enforcement agencies -- who were not involved in Clarke's case at all -- are allegedly requesting a share of his cash under the federal asset forfeiture program.
According to the Institute for Justice, a nonprofit civil liberties group now representing Clarke in court, these agencies include: the Kentucky State Police, the Ohio Highway Patrol, and even the Bureau of Criminal Investigations within the Ohio Attorney General's office.
Here's where the $11,000 is allegedly going --
These numbers reportedly all come from an Institute for Justice review of the Justice Department's Consolidated Asset Tracking System, the federal asset forfeiture database:
- The airport police have requested the lion's share of Charles Clarke's $11,000, at 40 percent.
- The Cincinnati Police Dept. has requested an additional 6.14 percent of it.
- The rest of the agencies are requesting 3.07 percent each.
- That all adds up to just under 80 percent, which by law is the maximum amount local agencies are allowed to receive in cases like this.
According to the Washington Post, civil asset forfeiture exists, in part, to compensate law enforcement agencies for their crime-fighting efforts.
The Controlled Substances Act states that forfeited property handed over to local law enforcement should have "a value that bears a reasonable relationship to the degree of direct participation of the State or local agency in the law enforcement effort resulting in the forfeiture, taking into account the total value of all property forfeited and the total law enforcement effort as a whole."
So what do you think -- is this accurate in the case of Charles Clark? Or is the DEA and local police departments "policing for profit"? Sound off below!
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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