The DEA may be cracking down on interstate cannabis trafficking, but someone else is cracking down on the down-crackers. The big uncle cracker in question here is the Office of the Inspector General, a division of the Department of Justice.
It said Wednesday that the Drug Enforcement Administration has taken much too much liberty with its administrative forfeitures, often seizing and keeping property and money from people never charged with a crime or even formally involved in an investigation.
The office looked at 100 seizures the DEA made and found that the DEA had only verified 44 of those as having “advanced or been related to ongoing investigations, resulted in the development of new investigations and led to arrests or prosecutions,” according to the Associated Press.
The DEA did not even require its agents to learn asset forfeiture laws before they started taking people’s shit, according to the office’s findings.
The inspector general’s office went as far as to say that it looked a lot like the DEA was just taking people’s money basically because they wanted to. “When seizure and administrative forfeitures do not ultimately advance an investigation or prosecution, law enforcement creates the appearance, and risks the reality, that it is more interested in seizing and forfeiting cash than advancing an investigation or prosecution,” the office wrote in a statement.
In a twist that makes you want to laugh and cry all at the same time, the criminal division of the Department of Justice has contradicted the findings of the inspector general, saying that their findings were misleading and founded on incomplete, flawed data. The inspector general, it said, ignored “robust training” that the DOJ offers to all pertinent agents, including DEA agents, and underreported the return of seized money.
The contradicting report threatens to confuse the government watchdog group’s allegations and prevent the DEA and other agencies of the Justice Department from righting their wrongs, namely to stop taking people’s money from them without any legal cause.