There are real-life pirates, and they’re dressed as Drug Enforcement Administration Agents.
At least that’s what Joseph Rivers discovered when agents confiscated the life savings he was going to use to become a Hollywood producer.
He was making the trek from Michigan to California when agents boarded his train and asked to search his bags during a stop in New Mexico.
Rivers, a young black man, didn’t want to cause a scene so he told the officers they could look through his bags. They wound up taking the $16,000 in cash he had saved to start a new life.
He was the only passenger they searched.
Even though River’s mom confirmed his story and he wasn’t charged with a crime, the agents still took his money and left him stranded in a strange city.
Sean Waite, the DEA agent in charge of the Albuquerque office, told the Albuquerque Journal he couldn’t comment on the Rivers case because it is ongoing.
“We don’t have to prove that the person is guilty. It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty.”
Rivers, the only black man on the train, is now fighting to get his money back, saying he was racially profiled by the agents.
The DEA denies the charge of racial profiling.
Rivers was carrying the $16,000 as cash because he had trouble withdrawing money from out of state banks in the past.
He told Newser the DEA stranded him when they took his money. With his dreams crushed, he had to rely on the charity of a stranger to buy him a ticket home.
“I had no money and no means to survive in Los Angeles if they took my money. They informed me that it was my responsibility to figure out how I was going to do that.”
That’s not the only search and seizure program the DEA has up and running.
They’re also tracking people’s traveling habits through license plate readers, according to the Inquisitr.
Again, the aim is to stop drug traffickers by seizing their cars and other assets, but hundreds of innocents have been swept up along with them.
Last year the federal government seized $3.9 billion in assets. So far this year, agents have seized more than $38 million in cash and goods from citizens, according to the Washington Post.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how many people got their money back.