The Campaign For DA

4.16.2015

"DPS Traffic Stop Leads to Large Cash Seizure"



WESLACO, TEXAS – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) seized more than $743,000 in cash on Wednesday after a traffic stop on U.S. Highway 77 in Kleberg County.

At approximately 11:20 a.m., a DPS trooper stopped a Ford Explorer traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 77 for a traffic violation. During the traffic stop, the trooper discovered 67 bundles of U.S. currency hidden in the rear quarter panels of the vehicle. 

The driver, Miguel Guadalupe Medrano, 23, of Brownsville, was arrested for money laundering and booked into the Kleberg County Jail.


DPS is bragging about this today by posting this on Facebook. Other than the facts listed above, I know nothing else about it. No drugs? No paraphernalia? Let's assume that's all the relevant facts.

I suppose most will say, "That has to be drug money." But to do so means you are guessing and assuming. And by doing so, you allow the government to confiscate money based upon a guess or an assumption. It can legally be forfeited to the State if the State can prove it is "probably" drug money. You prepared to do that? Why? The driver had a Hispanic surname? That it was in Brownsville? That's all you need?

But the plot gets thicker. The driver was arrested for "money laundering". That means they are accusing him of a the crime of transporting proceeds of a criminal activity. That's really ramping it up from trying to take someone's money. Now they are after a person's freedom. You know what the range of punishment is for that crime is in this situation? The same as murder. But do you think the State can prove his guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt"? Will you go that far? You don't have any doubt that you consider to be reasonable?

And now the dirty little secret. Hypothetically, what if a prosecutor in this type of situation says to the driver's lawyer, "We can cut you a pretty sweet deal on that criminal case and give the driver probation on this first degree felony if he will agree to let us and DPS keep the money." What's the driver going to do? The criminal case is beyond flimsy and he probably wouldn't be convicted at trial, but he can guarantee he'll stay out of prison if he gives the State the money.

Let me quote current Texas Supreme Court Justice (and Twitter happy)  Don Willett: “A generation ago in America, asset forfeiture was limited to wresting ill-gotten gains from violent criminals. Today, it has a distinctive ‘Alice in Wonderland’ flavor, victimizing innocent citizens who’ve done nothing wrong.”

And let me trick up the words of Tom Petty as I think about a case where the forfeiture laws were blatantly abused by police and prosecutors: "[Shake down.] Go ahead and give it to me."

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

no drivers license or insurance or tags
i bet or no kids fastened in seat belts

Wurdkyle said...

There is a much, much easier way to get drug money.

Make it legal and tax it.

Then the DPS can go back to hiding at the bottom of hills with their radar guns like good little boys and girls.

Anonymous said...

Great post, BG. Lawyers often get a bad rap, but I'm glad you're out there fighting for justice.

Anonymous said...

More "conservative" politics at work.

Anonymous said...

I'm a conservative but this legalized extortion. Legalized shake down.

Anonymous said...

Well, was there any lawn care equipment in the truck?

Anonymous said...

Correction:

It was $473,000....I mean $347,000.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Forfeiture is way out of hand. Don't have a problem with drug cash seizure, but prove it in court. Don't intimidate or shakedown. Do it by the book or don't do it.

DF Billie Sol Estes

Anonymous said...

Hello from Brownsville, Texas, the arm pit of the United States, Where you will find the poorest county in Texas but yet, boasts a Cadillac, Infinity, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, Audi and a Jaguar dealership.
Yes, you are right Barry the driver is totally innocent, because who amongst us hasn't driven around with $743000 in cash in the rear panels of our car.

Anonymous said...

I say let him walk.

The cartel will behead him within the week for losing their money.

Sam Brows said...

First off, if the 23 year old kid really WAS running drug money, he probably has to turn down the "dirty little secret" offer from the D.A., because the person who employs him wants his three quarter of a million bucks back, so the kid has probably been told by the attorney supplied by the employer, " no, you can't take this deal because if you do X is going to have you killed. OR, maybe, you, your mom, pop and little sister. So that's a silly supposition in the first place.

But there is one piece of the conviction and forfeiture puzzle that needs to be examined. Age. I don't know any kids that age with access to that kind of money. They don't know where to steal it and they certainly don't know what to do to earn it. So I think that's probably the government's case: a ton of cash, we think it was being laundered, because we tried to look at his tax returns for the past five years and oopsie, he hasn't filed one (or, he's never declared more than $15,000.oo in annual income).

Yes, the government uses this tool all too frequently; however, in this instance, unless the kid, after having his tax returns bandied about (or lack thereof)in open court, could offer up an explanation, I give the cops the dough and he goes to jail...where he probably gets killed by some gang member for a pack of smokes because the guy who owned the money is really ticked off about that loss.

Kids, don't do, sell or get involved with drugs.

Anonymous said...

What John Oliver had to say about this

Anonymous said...

Big government at work.

that guy said...

As a member of the "Right", I'll go on record and say that civil forfeiture laws, as written, are horse shit and constantly abused by those in power.

Only RINO's support them and that's only because they don't understand what they are talking about when defending them

A little anecdote, an Army buddy who is a police officer in a North Texas town, has participated in these state sanctioned cash grabs on more than one occassion.

He rather gleefully explained that they would only sieze vehicles that were "nice" and had clear titles. If the criminal scum was driving a clunker or lived in a shitty house they let them keep it.

Anonymous said...

Barry is so gay

Anonymous said...

Did the driver give a reason for dps to search the panel. Speeding. No seatbelt. Driving with out a license or insurance is NOT a reason to search the vehicle. This is why the lady in Rhome got all butt hurt the other day! Police are straight up doing things they would not allow to happen to them! And NO I have NEVER been in trouble with the law. But definitely scared to get stopped by them!

Anonymous said...

Chickpeas!

(Like 1:52 #2, I enjoy making comments here that have nothing to do with Barry's post.)

Sheriff Arpaio, Jr. said...

If he was black; we could have shot him.
One of the arresting officers is one of the good Mexicans, so he probably held a back a little bit. That's the problem with letting to many of them inlaw enforcement.

Anonymous said...

Orange is the new black!!

Anonymous said...

"More "conservative" politics at work."

1:41, you're an idiot. Conservatives don't support government theft.

Anonymous said...

It was probably more like 1,000,000 up to about one second after the DSP fags pulled him over.

Anonymous said...

5:05

OH....hell....yes....they do.

Anonymous said...

"A generation ago" people used their common sense and they knew a crime was a crime. Today people like you Barry, are more worried about a criminals rights than they are about doing the right thing and putting a criminal in jail.

Anonymous said...

Barry all you do is talk. Blah blah.

Have you done anything in your position to make anything better?

Blah Blah Blah

Anonymous said...

2:51, Welcome to America post Drug War/Patriot Act. Conservatives are huge supporters of both and will vilify anyone that doesn't campaign "tough on crime/terrorism".

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Barry on a lot of things, but this a well written expose on the cash grab by law enforcement in America. Absolute bullshit.
Great job Barry.
So $%&*!ing what if he had a billion dollars on him? No dope or other contraband, then send him on his way.

Anonymous said...

I know, right?

The other day u got pulled over and had $10 on me.

He confiscated that and I was on the front page of the star-telegram the next day.


Seizing $500,000 from a 23 year old kid doesn't bother me.

Seizing $20,000 from a 23 year old kid would

Barry, your thought process is hard to predict.

How can you be quick to take rights of gun owners, yet scream when a mule transporting drug money is stopped?

SpanishWarDonkey said...

If you support the War on Drugs (you're a republican), and in the next breath call this bullshit, you're a hypocrite and what is wrong with this country.

Anonymous said...

yea I always keep my money in the rear quarter panel of my car and when I get asked "no I don't know how it got there"
he's frinkin guilty.

Anonymous said...

Unless those packaged bills are all $1 bills there's no way that's only $750,000. Even if they were $1 bills I'm still not sure that's only that much. You can easily fit $1M into a small briefcase and this is a truckload.

Anonymous said...

@Donkey
8:56 here. Are you referring to my comment? If so, where do I say that I am a Republican or support the war on drugs?

SpanishWarDonkey said...

8:56/9:29

I wasn't commenting to anyone in particular really. I'm just sick of seeing people's lives ruined by archaic drug laws. There's far more important things law enforcement could be doing as far as I'm concerned. I understand LEO's just enforce the laws, not write them, but until all the old folks die, 20-30 years from now, nothing will change on recreational drug usage.

Anonymous said...

@Donkey:

Agreed in large part. However, I have a hard time with "recreational" meth use. I have never met someone capable of recreational meth use. It tends to become all encompassing in their life....and always for the worse. I become more libertarian with each passing year, but the meth thing is tough.

8:56/9:29

SpanishWarDonkey said...

Yeah, I'm with you on the life ruining stuff. I should have clarified. Pot, coke, acid, shrooms; legalize and tax it. Meth, heroine, crack; treat it as the disease it is.

Basically, when I see high functioning alcoholics that society has no problem with, I see no reason people can't do the less life ruining stuff. Obviously, there's always a risk involved with any drug that isn't weed, but if somebody wants to do a line and hit the club, or drop some acid and listen to Pink Floyd, why should we care?

Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,

I left a copious amount of cash in garage and it is missing. I am from Chico and get arrested every time I try to count to 11 (indecent exposure)so I don't know how much cash I had, but I think this guy stole it.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know where that (innocent) kid quit that job making the big bucks. I would like to work there for a couple of weeks .