When Cash Is a Crime (Or Is Government the Criminal?)


This rather extreme example of civil asset forfeiture has been getting some deserved attention recently:

A U.S. citizen for more than a decade, Rustem Kazazi was flying back to Europe to help his Albanian family repair their home and maybe even to buy a little beach house somewhere along the Adriatic Sea. He placed $58,100 into three clearly marked envelopes, then packed the money away in his carry-on luggage.

It was 13 years of his life savings – and the federal government took every penny.

TSA employees discovered the cash, and agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized it. But first they strip-searched Kazazi and interrogated the 64-year-old without a translator as he covered himself with a towel.

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Kazazi says he was carrying the cash in part because robbers in Albania make a practice of targeting people who make large withdrawals at the bank.  In the United States, it seems, the government makes a practice of scanning luggage for cash and taking it away.  In one case, the target may be beaten; in the other, he’ll be strip searched and interrogated in a towel.