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Policing For Profit: Critics Say Civil Asset Forfeiture Is Unfair

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol via flickr

In March the New Mexico state Legislature unanimously passed a bill that would basically eliminate what critics call “policing for profit,” the ability of law enforcement agencies to seize cars, cash and other property police say were used in committing a crime. The practice originated in the 1980s as a tool to fight back against big drug dealers, but civil liberties groups on the right and left of the political spectrum say the lure of big money has now corrupted government agencies, who use the law to pad their coffers.


Ken Christensen, the San Juan County sheriff and the chairman of the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association.

Hal Stratton, former New Mexico attorney general, former state representative, founder of the libertarian-leaning Rio Grande Foundation.

Heath White, Torrance County sherriff.

Brad Cates, former director of the Forfeiture and Money Laundering Office at the U.S. Department of Justice, former state representative from Albuquerque and a former federal prosecutor. 

Related Content:

House Bill 560 "Forfeiture Procedures and Reporting," sponsored by Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso.

"Bill would kill 'policing for profit,'" by Ryan Boetel and Dan Boyd, Albuquerque Journal, March 28, 2015.

"Stop and Seize: Aggressive police take hundreds of millions of dollars from motorists not charged with crimes," by Michael Sallah, Robert O'Harrow Jr., and Steven Rich, Washington Post, Sept. 6, 2014.

Op-ed: “Government self-interest corrupted a crime-fighting tool into an evil,” by John Yoder and Brad Cates, Washington Post, Sept. 18, 2014.