Nevada Highway Patrol, DEA sued over seizing Stephen Lara’s money

September 1, 2021 ☼ policingconfiscation

Source: The Washington Post - Link

The Nevada trooper first told Stephen Lara the highway patrol was educating drivers “about violations they may not realize they’re committing,” and that he’d been pulled over for following a tanker truck too closely. Eventually the trooper admitted having an ulterior purpose: stopping the smuggling of illegal drugs, weapons and currency as they crossed the state.

Lara — a former Marine who says he was on his way to visit his daughters in Northern California — insisted he was doing none of those things, though he readily admitted he had “a lot” of cash in his car. As he stood on the side of the road, police searched the vehicle, pulling nearly $87,000 in a zip-top bag from Lara’s trunk and insisting a drug-sniffing dog had detected something on the cash.

Police found no drugs, and Lara, 39, was charged with no crime. But police left with his money, calling a Drug Enforcement Administration agent to coordinate an “adoption,” which allows federal authorities to seize cash or property they suspect is connected to criminal activity without levying criminal charges.

It’s called stealing.