The Corner

Law & the Courts

Over a Few Bullets, Man Loses Truck to Civil Asset Forfeiture

A Kentucky man recently reclaimed his Ford F-250 pickup truck after it had been seized and kept for two years by the Customs and Border Patrol. The justification? Agents had found a few stray bullets in the center console. The owner, Gerardo Serrano, who is licensed for concealed carry, did not have any weapons in his vehicle as he was driving to visit relatives in Mexico. He had merely forgotten about the bullets. Claiming that the vehicle was being used to transport “munitions of war,” the agents took his vehicle. To try contesting the forfeiture, Serrano had to post a bond of 10 percent of the value of the truck.

After nearly two years without any action, Serrano caught a break when the Institute for Justice weighed in on his side. That apparently got the government’s attention. Serrano soon heard that his truck had been released and when he again took possession in Laredo, Texas, it had been washed and waxed and even had new tires. Serrano was sure the feds just wanted him to be happy and go away, but he and IJ have filed a class-action suit against CBP in federal court. That ought to be most interesting.

I write about the Serrano case as well as other recent civil asset forfeiture abominations in this Forbes article.

It’s too bad that the Trump administration has no interest in pushing for reform of civil asset forfeiture.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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