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Oct 18 - 'Highway robbers': How a trip to buy farmland ended with police taking $100k



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 2 months ago '11        #1
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Oct 18 - 'Highway robbers': How a trip to buy farmland ended with police taking $100k
 

 
A Vietnamese immigrant and his business partner are f*ghting to get back more than $100,000 seized by Oklahoma police who allege that it was drug money.

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A pair of New Mexico businessmen were driving along Interstate 40 in Oklahoma late one night in April when a sheriff’s deputy flipped on his lights and sirens and pulled over their BMW sedan.

The two men, Nang Thai and Weichuan Liu, were on their way to a hotel in Oklahoma City. They planned to catch some sleep before heading out in the morning to close on a 10-acre plot of farmland they’d agreed to buy for $100,000.

But now, at about 2 a.m. on April 19, a Canadian County sheriff’s deputy was peering into their car.

“We didn’t understand why he pulled us over,” said Thai, 51, a Vietnamese immigrant and father of two from Albuquerque. “I was driving under the speed limit.”

They had no way of knowing at the time but Thai and Liu were about to begin an hourslong ordeal that would leave them stripped of all their cash and searching for answers. Their experience highlights the controversial law enforcement practice known as civil a*set forfeiture, in which police can confiscate a person’s cash or other property even without bringing criminal charges.

The deputy asked the two men for their licenses, where they were going and whether they were carrying any money, according to Thai.

They had a large amount of cash in the vehicle: more than $100,000, which Thai says they brought to pay for the property. Thai — who speaks English with a heavy accent (Liu speaks very little English at all) — told the officer they were headed to a hotel and, yes, had cash on them.

The deputy said he suspected they were involved in “illegal activity,” according to Thai. A criminal background search would have turned up a 2017 conviction against Liu for growing marijuana in California.

After a second officer arrived at the scene, the men were driven to a police station and interrogated for hours. Deputies emptied a backpack and suitcase full of cash, then pulled apart the inside of the BMW but apparently turned up no guns, drugs or any other illicit items.

Thai said he told his interrogators they had saved up the money for years and were planning to use the land for farming but hadn’t yet determined which crops to raise.

“They kept saying, ‘This is illegal money,’” Thai said. “I said, ‘Okay, prove it. We didn't do anything illegal.’”

The two men were released without being charged or even issued a traffic ticket, but the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office did not return their cash. Court papers filed by District Attorney Michael Fields say the money was seized because it was intended to be used to violate drug laws or resulted from illegal drug transactions.

The men are now f*ghting to get it back. Adding insult to injury, they contend that the amount the sheriff’s office says it confiscated – $131,500 – is actually $10,000 short of the total they had in their car that day.

“Now I have to prove I’m innocent, and they are the ones who illegally took my money and basically stole some of my money, too,” said Thai.

The court docket contains no records detailing the traffic stop or the seizure, and neither the sheriff's office nor the district attorney’s office agreed to comment.

Among those surprised by the turn of events is the man who was set to sell his land to Thai and Liu.

“I was shocked when I heard of the confiscation of their money,” the seller told NBC News.

He said he had met with them a few days earlier and had drawn up a contract to sell the property to Thai for $100,000. NBC News has viewed a copy of the agreement.

“They seemed like very nice and intelligent business people,” said the seller, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I feel bad for them and the situation.”

What happened to Thai and Liu is not at all unusual.

Federal and local law enforcement have broad authority in many parts of the country to seize a person’s property if it is suspected to be linked to criminal activity. Civil a*set forfeiture allows the authorities to confiscate items like cash and cars even without charging the people forced to give up their property.

Defenders of the practice say it’s a vital tool in f*ghting drug traffickers, who are known to hide ill-gotten cash in vehicles and other items. But critics across the political spectrum argue that it violates constitutional rights and disproportionately impacts minorities and low-income people who are more likely to be profiled by police and less likely to have the resources to challenge the seizures.

“Billions of dollars are taken yearly from citizens who are never charged with a crime, and are not afforded any of the due process provisions of the Constitution, such as a day in court, presumption of innocence, right to counsel, and an impartial jury,” said Brad Cates, former director of the Justice Department’s a*set Forfeiture Office during the Reagan Administration who has become an outspoken critic of civil forfeiture.

So far this year, local law enforcement agencies confiscated more than $1.3 million from people driving through Canadian County, according to an NBC News review of court records.

At least 58 percent of the 31 cash seizures involved minorities only – with Asian people making up 23 percent, Black 19 percent and Hispanic 16 percent. White people accounted for 26 percent of the forfeitures in Canadian County, which is more than 75 percent white.

Only 14 out of the 31 cash forfeitures resulted in criminal charges, or 45 percent, court records show.

In 2020, some 43 percent of the 53 cash seizures in Canadian County involved minorities. Black people accounted for 18 percent, Hispanic 17 percent, Asian 7 percent and white 26 percent, according to the NBC News review. The cash seizures yielded more than $1.8 million dollars, court records show, and 31 of the 53 resulted in criminal charges, or 58 percent.

The high percentage of minorities subjected to cash seizures in Canadian County is not a new trend.

The nonprofit investigative news site Oklahoma Watch found that 60 percent of the cash seizures in Canadian County between 2010 and 2015 involved minorities. Nine other counties in Oklahoma, including the six largest, had roughly the same percentage over that five-year time period, according to Oklahoma Watch.

Megan Lambert, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, said she found the figures on cash forfeitures and race “in no way surprising.”

“Racism and implicit bias have a greater impact where discretion is allowed, and police enjoy a significant amount of discretion over civil a*set forfeitures,” she said. “The lack of accountability or transparency and the perverse financial incentives of civil a*set forfeiture make the process ripe for abuse and bias.”

“Highway robbers”

More than 30 states have instituted reforms in recent years to protect people from civil a*set forfeiture, such as shifting the burden of proof to the authorities. Others — like New Mexico, North Carolina, Nebraska and Maine — have abolished it all together.

But Oklahoma is not among the states to take significant action to curtail the practice.

visit this link https://www.nbcnews.com/n .. g-all-n1281629
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18 comments
 

 2 months ago '21        #2
nocomment  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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+13   

 2 months ago '19        #3
slicktheruler  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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John Oliver had a segment exposing how corrupt cops get away with people's money. What a shame.


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 2 months ago '15        #4
AmillionMo  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x3
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Bruh, don't fu*king carry money with you. I don't carry over $200 or $300 on me. That's what credit cards are for!
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 2 months ago '18        #5
antisocial100 
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Make sure y’all ride around with any cash or drugs in the trunk if you doing these type of trips
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 2 months ago '14        #6
strungout  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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Imagine living in a world where you are not able to do what you want with your own money , where carrying large sums is grounds enough to think you are "suspicious" this isn't freedom
+19   

 2 months ago '18        #7
Sandyy  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x7
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my granddad was DC pd 40 yrs - always told me never fly with more than 200$

and never travel with more than 500$ in cash on your person - they will rob your a*s
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 2 months ago '13        #8
vandalizm 
Props total: 15382 15 K  Slaps total: 1957 1 K
Don’t make what the pigs did right but they were definitely going to cop some land for growing weed OK hot right now

That being said

death to all pigs
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 2 months ago '18        #9
Sick Flair 
Props total: 21015 21 K  Slaps total: 1514 1 K
That sh*t needs to be voted out or reformed. All money seizures should also be recorded for accuracy. The folks need to vote or don’t drive through that bi*ch take the long way and save your cash.

 2 months ago '17        #10
Thegreatiandi  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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This is some sundown Town sh*t.

And you better be of a certain heritage and ethnicity to be rolling through here type ish...

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 2 months ago '20        #11
Ball Man  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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Any criminal past with marijuana should be ignored and pardoned at this point...
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 2 months ago '07        #12
Damagegadget  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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But but my freedom crowd should really be more concerned here
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 2 months ago '07        #13
Damagegadget  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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 Ball Man said
Any criminal past with marijuana should be ignored and pardoned at this point...
By state of legalization yes but remember the war on drugs was created as was making a organic plant. There is money in creating crime
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 2 months ago '05        #14
rellish 
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 Damagegadget said
By state of legalization yes but remember the war on drugs was created as was making a organic plant. There is money in creating crime
Yup. That sad & unfortunate truth
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 2 months ago '20        #15
Ball Man  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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 Damagegadget said
By state of legalization yes but remember the war on drugs was created as was making a organic plant. There is money in creating crime
This is how I see it...

Besides Theft, murder, r*pe Pedophila, etc and a handful of traffic laws ....the law is just big business to take advantage of the average joe...
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 2 months ago '04        #16
Skilllz 
Props total: 27128 27 K  Slaps total: 2621 2 K
Some dude I know was transporting a 100k through Georgia, totally legal BTC business. Them boys took his sh*t

 2 months ago '07        #17
Damagegadget  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
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 Ball Man said
This is how I see it...

Besides Theft, murder, r*pe Pedophila, etc and a handful of traffic laws ....the law is just big business to take advantage of the average joe...
Yes and remember laws are discretionary.. that’s why they employ enforcers on peace officers
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 2 months ago '19        #18
Thisizdray 
Props total: 4024 4 K  Slaps total: 486 486
It probably was drug money.

Police shouldn’t have taken it though

Gotta keep it in the trunk and not answer questions
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 2 months ago '17        #19
TrigMatic 
Props total: 142 142  Slaps total: 4 4
Quick story 2007 I was traveling through same county in Oklahoma, 4 people 2 white guys, myself black and my son who was on his 18th Bday trip. We were headed to the 1st Ufc f*ght Week. The Weds before Memorial Day. They randomly pull us over go through the routine with the driver, search vehicle, they find 6k and ask what it's for. We tell them it's for spending cash in Vegas since we had hotel rooms, rental car and other sh*t on our credit cards we didn't want to get stuck with no cash in Vegas for a week. Needless to say they told us people traveling east to west usually have money because they are going to buy drugs and west to east they find more drugs. They took money,took my boy to jail, we had to spend the remaining money we could scrap up bailing him out that day or he would have been stuck there for a week due to holiday. Injury to insult the Bails Bonds guy ran off with our bail money and a lawyer told us to get the $6k back it would take $10k in lawyer fees crazy but real. Don't drive across country because after you get so far away from home your license plate is a moving target? Also on way home we were stopped in Alabama for same sh*t, situation got escalated until I showed the officer that we had just went through the same sh*t the day before in Oklahoma. Needless to say we never made it to Vegas!
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