Customs steals $58K, a man’s life savings


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Theft by government: U.S. Customs stole $58,000 from a man traveling to Albania, his life savings, though they charged him with no crime.

“This is to notify you that Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) seized the property described below at Cleveland, OH on October 24, 2017: $57,330 in U.S. Currency,” the notice states. “Enforcement activity indicates that the currency was involved in a smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering operation.”

The first thing the Kazazis noticed was that the dollar amount listed was $770 less than the amount that Kazazi said he took with him. The family said that the cash was all in $100 bills, making it impossible for it to add up to $57,330.

Customs might claim this had to do with “smuggling/drug trafficking/money laundering” but they found no evidence of such when they strip-searched the man, and have followed up with no charges. And that $770 of the cash that appears missing suggests strongly that several Customs agents pocketed the difference, a nice illegal bonus for these despicable thieves.

Civil forfeiture on its face violates the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which clearly states that citizens are not to “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” These Customs agents, the Custom managers, and everyone else involved with this crime should be fired immediately.

It won’t happen, unfortunately. Our corrupt federal government no longer follows the Constitution. It follows its own corrupt power games, for its own benefit. And the people who should act to stop this, our elected officials, are part of the game.

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5 comments

  • wodun

    Civil forfeiture on its face violates the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which clearly states that citizens are not to “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

    The courts must have ruled on this but it would be nice to see appeals up to SCOTUS.

  • Col Beausabre

    And that $770 of the cash that appears missing suggests strongly that several Customs agents pocketed the difference, a nice illegal bonus for these despicable thieves. – Bob Z

    “Hottot said that these types of “errors” are common in forfeiture cases and that it is “always in the same direction” — government receipts coming up a few hundred or a few thousand dollars short of what defendants say they had.”

    Just a coincidence, of course.

    Who said “Qui Custodes, Custodiet” (Who will guard the guardians) ?

    And our Betters in the DC-Media-Entertainment-Ivy League bubble wonder why the Plebs are restive. I mean who do they think they are to complain about their self-proclaimed moral and intellectual superiors? The establishment’s bible is Plato’s Republic (a truly fascist work and I don’t mean that in the loose way it is tossed around today) and they are the Philosopher-Kings destined to rule mankind. To them, Jefferson’s, “… the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them…” is merely quaint verbiage.

    .

  • “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes.” Juvenal, Satires.

  • BSJ

    Here we go again. Another fake news story. Conflating civil forfeiture with seizures of undeclared fund at the border is just plain wrong. The two thing have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

    Declare all amounts above $10,000 and they can’t and won’t take your stuff!

    Commit fraud and lie on the declaration form or to the agent, and then they find your carefully bundled packets of cash, they will, and can take it.

    The stupid tax for lying can be up to 100%.

    That’s it. End of story. Period. Put a line under it. Finito!

  • Edward

    BSJm
    You wrote: “Conflating civil forfeiture with seizures of undeclared fund at the border is just plain wrong. The two thing have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

    They have everything to do with each other. The seizure even of undeclared funds at the border falls under civil forfeiture whenever there is no due process. Otherwise the seizure would be illegal under all laws. Only civil forfeiture laws allow for seizure without due process — which is why they are blatantly unconstitutional.

    If he had had his funds confiscated for lying, then he should have been arrested and tried for that crime — the due process required by the Constitution.

    That’s it. End of story. Period. Put a line under it. Finito!

    So the question is, BSJ, do you believe that U.S. Customs officials have broken the law by confiscating property without due process, or do you believe that they have followed civil forfeiture laws and confiscated property without due process. Your comment suggests the former but uses the latter to rationalize the theft.

    But wait! Before answering, read further in the article:

    CBP also noted that there are disclosure requirements for traveling internationally with sums of cash greater than $10,000. “Failure to declare monetary instruments in amounts more than $10,000 can result in fines or forfeiture and could result in civil and or criminal penalties,” the statement said. Hottot said Kazazi was well aware of those requirements and planned file his disclosure form during his four-hour layover in Newark. The form instructs travelers to file the paperwork “at the time of departure from the United States with the Customs officer in charge at any Customs port of entry or departure.”

    The paperwork specifies that it is to be filed “at the time of departure from the United States with the Customs officer in charge at any Customs port of entry or departure.”

    The theft occurred not at Newark at the time of departure from the United States but at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the airport prior to the time and port of departure from the United States. Thus even the applicable customs law was violated, as expressed on the form. If the form gives incorrect instruction to the traveler, then the confusion is the fault of the form’s author, U.S. Customs, and the confiscation is an even greater travesty of justice than merely the unconstitutional civil forfeiture law — it is entrapment, instructing one action under color of authority then punishing the victim for following instructions.

    This is the problem with civil forfeiture laws. They allow for an amazing amount of corruption in U.S. law enforcement, and they often encourage it by allowing the law enforcement agency to keep a large portion of confiscated cash or of the proceeds of auctioned property. The latter is the more alarming issue, as auctioned property is not fungible; it is difficult to return after innocence is proved.

    Oh! Did I just stumble upon another problem with the unAmerican nature of civil forfeiture: the requirement that innocence be proved before property is returned? And how does one prove innocence when there is no due process in order to do so? This is Kazazis’s main problem. If only he could prove his innocence, then the government would have to return his life savings.

    It seems that asset forfeiture has become so routine that it is used even when inappropriate.

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