DEA Seizes Life Savings of New Orleans Grandfather Without Charging Him With a Crime
A New Orleans grandfather says the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took his life savings based on flimsy accusations of drug trafficking and without ever charging him with a crime. Now he’s fighting to get it back.
Kermit Warren, a former longshoreman, says he and his son had gotten laid off from their jobs last year during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and he was trying to turn a side-business as a scrapper into a full-time venture. To that end, he and his son traveled to Ohio with roughly $28,000 to purchase a tow truck.
However, Warren claims the tow truck was too large for his needs, so he and his son bought a one-way ticket back home. In the airport, three DEA agents stopped the two men and questioned them about the bag of cash they were carrying.
The complaint against Warren’s money filed in federal court says Warren and his son gave suspicious and incomplete answers about their travel itinerary and plans to buy the truck. Based on that, the agents seized his money. The complaint alleges that a drug dog later alerted on the cash, and that the DEA had previously received a tip of drug trafficking activity at his son’s residence. Warren denies any involvement in drug activity.
The government is now seeking to keep Warren’s money forever through a practice known as civil asset forfeiture, despite there being no concrete evidence that he was involved in drug trafficking. Warren is represented by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian-leaning public interest law firm that has filed several lawsuits on behalf of people who had significant amounts of cash seized from them at airports on the mere suspicion of drug trafficking.
“The government shouldn’t be able to take every dollar I’ve saved up when I’ve committed no crime,” Kermit said in an Institute for Justice pr
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