I'm really in favor of reforming civil asset forfeiture laws, the reforms listed, requiring a conviction and giving almost all of the money to the general fund, seem like great ideas. However, the way this particular case was presented is absolute BS.
These weren't poor POC who were denied licenses and the cops didn't criminalize their business. This was an organization that bought 74 grow houses to supply pot to places on the East Coast where it was still illegal. They were people smugglers who they forced people to work off their debts by working in these grow houses. This was organized crime, which I'm actually fine with civil asset forfeiture being used against... assuming there were convictions, which there were.
Sounds good to me
"When federal agents and the King County Sheriff's Office conducted an early morning raid in Skyway on October 21, 2020, they seized most everything of value they could get their hands on. The bounty they captured included computers that kids had been using to attend online school during the pandemic, as well as envelopes of cash they’d received as presents from their parents."
The authors, presumably intentionally, blur the lines between seizure of evidence and civil forfeiture, misleading readers about the property subject to forfeiture in the Ng case. Here's a list of the property subject to forfeiture:
In the Indictment returned on October 14, 2020 (Dkt. No. 1), the United States
gave notice it intends to seek forfeiture in this case pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 853
(authorizing the forfeiture of property that facilitated, or constitutes proceeds of, the
charged drug offenses). The United States specifically identified the following properties
for forfeiture on this basis:
a. the real property located at 7603 South 115th Street, Seattle, Washington, titled
to Qifang Chen;
b. the real property is located at 25715 18th Avenue South, Des Moines,
Washington 98198, titled to Qifang Chen; and,
c. sums of money reflecting the proceeds each of the Defendants personally
obtained from the offense.
Now, pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(f) and 32.2(a), the United States identifies the
following additional property for forfeiture on the same basis:
d. $529,312 in United States currency seized from the Defendant Raymond
Ng’s residence, 6622 S. 124th Street, Seattle, Washington, on October 21,
e. 65 Pieces of Jewelry and 40 1922 Peace Sliver Dollars seized from the
Defendant Raymond Ng’s residence, 6622 S. 124th Street, Seattle,
Washington, on October 21, 2020;
f. a 2014 Tesla S 60, VIN No. 5YJSA1S14EFP48907, registered to the
Defendant Raymond Ng and seized from his residence, 6622 S. 124th
Street, Seattle, Washington, on October 21, 2020;
g. $5,143 in United States currency seized from the Defendant Qifang Chen’s
residence, 7603 S. 115th Street, Seattle, Washington on October 21, 2020;
h. a 2018 Maserati Levante, VIN No. ZN661XUAXJX275952, registered to
the Defendant Qifang Chen and seized from her residence, 7603 S. 115th
Street, Seattle, Washington, on October 21, 2020.
source: Forfeiture Bill of Particulars, available at https://ecf.wawd.uscourts.gov/doc1/19719618874
Holy Christmas on a cracker.... Its a law on the books designed to discourage/penalize illegal activity.
If you don't like the law, then go through the legislative process and put it to a vote.
I'd lay a small wager, most people, probably think that assets seized in a raid, pursuant to a court order, can be used in evidence and if the assets are ill gotten, again as determined in a court of law, they can be forfeited.
Golly, did the authors miss the 70's, 80's 90;s .... and what's going on today with drug cartels, dealers..... Perhaps they just woke up as if they were sleeping under a tree for decades.
@5 Um, they are proposing changing the law numbnuts. And the drug war which you are apparently a cheerleader for CREATED the cartels.
Having to prove property the drug gestapo stole was not ill-gotten is something right out of some totalitarian dystopia. Beyond a conviction the fuckers should have to prove the property was directly related to the crime. The proposed reforms here sound somewhat tepid, but at least they are something.
Arguing in favor of literally slavery isn't a great look for Scott and NTK, but at least most readers won't read the comments and won't know what they're defending here.
This was one Chinese guy literally using slave labor to run his illegal drug farm. Most of the stuff seized was his money and luxury cars. Yes they also took his laptops, which were likely full of evidence, but maybe also used by his kids for remote learning.
Why is the solution with these "progressives" always to cheat your way around the law? If you don't like the laws, change them. Unfortunately that would require actually convincing people that you're right and winning a lot of elections. Instead they're trying to win just one election so they can refuse to enforce all the laws they don't like, regardless of what the public thinks or what the legislature passes.
@8 I am assuming you read the post? It appears they are proposing changing the law. Did that detail just go in one ear and out the other of all the armchair authoritarians here? The example given may or may not be a good one but the absolute rampant abuse of civil forfeiture laws in this country has been voluminously documented. Really, if the federal judiciary was not largely controlled by reactionaries they would have been declared unconstitutional ages ago.
I see they are the 'exclusionary zoning' BS again, calling it 'redlining'. Perhaps it is 'redlining' that I can't afford to live in Windermere or Laurelhurst? Give me a break!
@9 you might want to share this "voluminous documentation" with the authors. They are clearly not capable of coming up with compelling examples on their own.
@11 Pretty sure you can rather easily find it for yourself but I suspect you are not particularly interested. Here's a start:
If you've been growing commercial amounts of off-license weed to make your living asset forfeiture is just gonna be a cost of doing business.
For as much as Civil Asset forfeiture needs reforming, Skyway isn't a part of the Seattle municipality.
We the people and my family specifically were harmed directly from overstep by WSLCB. Civil forfeiture is harmful when the state leverages these gross practices on individuals for profit $! https://gofund.me/ca07d503
Why should the cops be allowed to keep even 10% of what they seize? They should not have ANY financial motivation to do this.
@1 - the problem is that there is no conviction requirement for forfeiture. They can't fine you for a crime without proving their case, and forfeiture should be no different.
@17 Well, I can understand why it might make sense to seize suspected stolen or otherwise ill-gotten cash/property before someone is convicted, mainly to prevent them from using, laundering, hiding or otherwise disposing of it in the meantime. But it certainly shouldn't happen without charges being filed, and the burden of convincing the court that the property should be forfeited should rightly be on the prosecution. Oregon did a ballot initiative on this a while back; Washington should do likewise if the legislature is too intimidated by the cop lobby.
@18- exactly. But even once the burden of proof is put where it should be (on the state) the cops should have zero financial gain from this process. It’s just asking for corruption to let them profit from it.
Civil asset forfeiture is deeply unpopular with everyone but the police and prosecutors who profit from it and like incarceration itself, primarily at the expense of poor minorities. Police stealing money without needing to prove a crime is literally 3rd world banana republic stuff. You don't find it in place like Europe. You find it in the most corrupt parts of sub-Sahara Africa and central America. We should be able to expect more from law enforcement in the US than how they run things in Nicaragua. We have the highest paid police force in the country. Do they really need to steal another person's rent money to get by?
What this article does not mention is that the focus on stupid crimes like sex work and drugs over things like murder and rape is a direct result of the civil asset forfeiture tied to the former. Unless you remove the financial incentive, the police will continue to prioritize lifestyle crime over violent crime as they do now since that's where the asset forfeiture is.
It's a clear sign of the authoritarian overreach of our police that they can take money and you are left to prove your innocence in court to get it back. Most polls place the popularity of asset forfeiture reform at better than 80% among the American people in a country where 51% of the country can't agree on anything.
That this is a split discussion in the Stranger comment section shows just how many members of law enforcement we have posting here.
Has anyone gotten Davison's take on this? Since she has 0 experience with the criminal system, you will probably need to brief her on what asset forfeiture is.
@20, Pretty much everyone here seems in favor of reforming civil asset forfeiture laws, I haven't seen anyone speaking in favor of them. What people are questioning is why NTK (and her co-author) picked a case of a drug cartel who was doing some modern slavery on the side as her example of someone harmed by civil asset forfeiture, then misrepresented the case. This case looks like the proper use of civil asset forfeiture, to keep criminal organizations from keeping their profits.
Maybe you disagree and think drug lords who practice modern slavery should be able to keep assets, and that's fine but I don't think you're going to be in the majority. Regardless, you should at least be able to see the strategic blunder of picking this particular case. NTK's choice here really makes me think she is someone who should be kept away from criminal justice reform.
@21: It's the straw man I would expect in defense of asset forfeiture since simply claiming you support police criminality and corruption through asset forfeiture is a harder sell. Sure, I support human slavery and so do the other 80% of American's who think asset forfeiture warps police decision making around crime and steals money from the most vulnerable. How clever of you, although you lose point for not working in that it's somehow really all about saving the children. Did you accidentally leave that talking point at home?
So you predictably change the topic from asset forfeiture to a conversation about modern slavery, even though the criminal system has consistently shown a callous disregard for actual work place violations unless there's a pile of asset forfeiture cash to justify their extremely selective concerns.
There was a story in the Stranger a few months ago about employees for a pizza place suing their boss for consistently paying them under the minimum wage. This happens to vulnerable immigrants all the time and they can't sue due to their legal status. Stories of worker abuse like that are rampant in the food business, yet the police seem amazingly uninterested in involving themselves or caring about such cases beyond complaining their cheeseburger did not arrive quickly enough and that no has the right to force them to wear a mask.
There seems to be this odd, yet consistent correlation between police outrage over "modern slavery" and cases that involve stacks of cash through asset forfeiture. In fact, the one thing the police consistently don't use the term "modern slavery" is to define actual modern day slavery as defined by the 13th amendment, which they support and promote without question:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Isn't it funny how the police only use the term "human slavery" while they are literally stuffing their own pockets with the cash of other people at the scene of the crime? Under the older, pre-asset forfeiture definition of "modern slavery" that term meant confining and forcing someone to work against their will, which sounds an awful lot like prison.
Under the new "modern slavery" definition, it's simply any crime where the cops get to steal the stuff of someone else. Tell me, just how much cash do you need to steal from people before start using the "modern slavery" shtick? Have you guys come up with an official dollar cut off, or is it strictly informal based on how much Press is on the scene?
As for "Pretty much everyone here seems in favor of reforming civil asset forfeiture laws," just like "everyone supports police reform" you are completely full of shit.
What you have is a majority that wants reform, and a minority that benefits from the existing corruption that doesn't have the guts to admit that out loud, so instead throws around the word "reform" in the most abstract may possible, but always changes the subject to something else when it comes to specific cases of abuse where reform would have an actual impact.
@22, "So you predictably change the topic from asset forfeiture to a conversation about modern slavery"
The example in the article was a drug cartel that is using modern slavery, I didn't change the subject to build a strawman. The authors of the article picked a case about a drug cartel who use modern slavery, painted them as POCs who couldn't get licenses to participate in Washington's legal pot industry, which was absolute BS. Again, I'm not the one changing the subject, this is the example given.
"There seems to be this odd, yet consistent correlation between police outrage over "modern slavery" and cases that involve stacks of cash through asset forfeiture."
I'm not the police, but in this case, we're talking about modern slavery because it's the example NTK and Shaun Scott gave in their article. Most people here are talking about what a shitty example this was. I keep repeating this in the hopes that it sinks in.
"so instead throws around the word "reform" in the most abstract may possible"
I said in @1 that I supported both requiring a conviction and giving the money to the general fund rater than the cops and DAs who pursue these cases. This isn't abstract, these are the pieces of legislation. What would really help push this through would be some examples of the cops in Washington abusing the current laws.
@21: I also want to offer you some free advice on your future talking points around "modern slavery."
The whole "drug lords modern slavery" thing you used around canibas is really showing your age. The 1990's are over and you apparently didn't get the memo from the prosecutors office that they no longer use that term around cannabis once all the federal grant money dried up, but instead use it around prostitution since that's where all the federal grant money lifestyle crime enforcement has shifted.
Your "Miami Vice" level talking points around "drug lords human slavery" is dead. The updated "Law and Order" episode approved talking point should be: "(insert your minority female here to confirm your a bigot) + prostituted women modern day slavery!" while stuffing all that cash in the back of your cruiser. Nothing shows you are against modern day slavery like stealing all their money in the name of "saving them."
The language around "modern slavery" shifted in perfect sync with the cash flow over 10 years ago with the transition of federal grants from drug enforcement to prostitution enforcement.
Now, you're correct that you should continue to ignore rape, murder and the property crimes we pay taxes for you to investigate since killers and rapist rarely have the kind of money on them that would justify police involvement, but you need to get in on the "prostituted women" asset forfeiture "human slavery" while the get'in is good because the gravy train won't last forever.
These things rotate, and if you wait too long, law enforcement will have already moved on to "having a beer with dinner is modern day slavery!" alcohol prohibition and you will be stuck still using drug lords modern slavery" cannabis talking points and at that point, you might as well be talking about "running the numbers modern day slavery."
Then won't you feel silly?
@24, Naw, I'm comfortable describing bringing people into the US illegally, quite likely lying to them to do so, and then forcing them to work for you to pay off their debts as modern slavery.
@23: "The example in the article was a drug cartel that is using modern slavery, I didn't change the subject to build a strawman."
Did you real the two articles attached? At no point do they mention "modern slavery"" or work conditions at all:
That talking point was literally invented by the "asset forfeiture reformers" here to distract from a conversation about asset forfeiture.
I will take you at your word that you are not a cop, so let me inform you that the police are habitual liars, especially with the Press and you should never take their "reports" to the press at face value, especially when they use terms like "modern slavery" absent any charges for that, although that is entirely absent from these articles.
If there was force, fraud, or abuse "modern slavery" involved you would have seen charges for that and there are none. That tells you all you need to know about the "reformers" spreading that lie in this comment section.
If there are no charges that actual support a police crime claim, they are lying again. In this case there is no talk of coercive work conditions at all, so you are dealing with commentators who are lying to defend the corrupt practice of asset forfeiture. Someone has to pay that second mortgage on their new beach house.
Protecting and serving.
The only time the police don't call something human trafficking is when there is real human trafficking and it involves the police doing the trafficking. Otherwise, without charges you should assume any reference to "modern slavery" is a lie designed to justify stealing stuff to the media.
@25: "pay off their debts as modern slavery."
Why don't you go ahead find that part for me in the two articles and paste it here, because I'm not seeing any talk of that in the storied beyond what you literally pulled out of your own ass.
@27, this wasn't covered in the two articles, which is part of the criticism that the authors were completely misrepresenting this case and that it is a really bad example to use as a criticism of civil asset forfeiture. Either the authors were ignorant about the facts of the case or they were deceptive for not including them. Here are some examples that aren't pulled from my ass and that the authors either weren't able to find (google fail perhaps) or deliberately ignored:
Some Weed Growers Arrested in Recent Raids Essentially ‘Indentured Servants'
“They were led to believe they were going to be growing marijuana, and that this was legal here in Washington, and that they would be compensated for what they were doing.”
A statement filed with Grays Harbor Superior Court in the case of 54-year-old Pei Wu described him as "a victim of human trafficking that caused many of the low-level tenders to take care of these illicit crops" for little or no money.
"Mr. Wu's ID, passport, and other documents were kept by others in New York," the prosecutor's sentencing recommendation noted.
Scott said that it’s believed that those arrested were brought over from China, some under the impression that they would pay off their debt of transportation and other costs involved in coming to the U.S. after the crop was sold.
“That’s clearly just a form of human trafficking,” Scott said. “They’re indentured to the person that brought them over here.”
Can we make an exception to the modern slavery ban for @28, Dr. Raypower, and Dr Nelson Salim? A little hard labor seems in order.
@29 Hey maybe it is a bad example but the point remains: even if you have busted real bad guys in no way should it be acceptable for the cops to just seize all the property of said bad guys (which very often includes property that is at best vaguely connected to said bad guys) without any proof that this property was directly related to, or constitutes proceeds of, a crime.
And stating that 'no one here is arguing in favor of asset forfeiture' is certainly dubious if you read the comments. See 5 for instance.
@31, I said "Pretty much everyone here seems in favor of reforming civil asset forfeiture laws", I'm not really sure if @5 likes the laws as they are, maybe they do, in which case, yeah, one person here doesn't seem to be in favor of reforming civil asset forfeiture laws. Maybe I overstated this. However, what I didn't do was to portray some modern slavers as victims, like NTK did. I'm much happier to live with the mistake I may have made than if I had made the one NTK did. Strangely, some here seem much more troubled by my possible mistake than NTKs.
@32: "However, what I didn't do was to portray some modern slavers as victims, like NTK did."
It's amazing the Stranger did not fact-check any of the material it published in this post, or if it did, it was a-ok with NTK slobbering over those poor interstate drug-cartel operators, those sympathetic human traffickers, with not a word for their many victims. With not even recognizing any of their victims even existed.
The Stranger just told us what to expect of City Attorney NTK. It is absolutely no prosecution of any misdemeanor other than DUI, not under any circumstances, even if she now waffles when asked about DV. No misdemeanor could possibly be worse than what these organized crime syndicates did, and what they really did wasn't even worth a word from her.
This is what you're endorsing, Stranger. I hope you don't get to inflict it upon everyone in Seattle -- or beyond. (What if one of those unprosecuted misdemeanors could, if prosecuted, revealed a growing operation like the examples she gives here?)
@33 "Interstate drug cartel operators"
These guys were growing a shit ton of weed in this woods. Going to these lengths to stop and prosecute them is not a worthwhile or positive use of public resources. But apparently, as the article explains, seizing assets makes it profitable.
@29 "This wasn't covered in the two articles"
Great. You claimed you are not a cop, but have access to information "not covered in the two articles" about human slavery the police did not release to the media and you somehow know this even though you are not a cop? How do you have access to this magical information that contradicts the public information that you cannot provide us with even though you are not a cop?
So, we are supposed to just believe your claims of "human slavery" when all the documentation we have publicly available by the police mentions no such thing and we are ALSO supposed to believe your unsourced claims about human slavery based on your access to information we can't see to even though you claim you are not a cop. Give this obvious serious of very poorly thought out lies, why should I not believe you are simply pulling shit out of your ass to justify stealing the shit of other people?
Well officer, you are obviously lying, but I have no idea which parts you are lying about, or if you are lying about the entire thing. When someone lies so frequently you literally can't track the lies, it's safe to assume they are either cop or a prosecutor hiding behind qualified or absolute immunity. Which are you?
Can you provide ANY credible evidence of the "human slavery" claim you used to justify stealing stuff? Ya, that's what I thought.
Let me explain this in terms people who are not habitual liars like you can understand. If you want to know what happened beyond what the habitual liars in law enforcement claim, look at the actual charges people are charged with. If someone is charged with growing and selling pot as these people were, but the police stole all their money and are now talking all about modern day slavery, you are dealing with habitual liar scum bags to steal and lie about it because qualified immunity has made their criminal behavior legal.
@29 "this wasn't covered in the two articles"
This is exactly why law enforcement lies about "human trafficking" just as they lied about "terrorism" to justify police abuse after 9/11.
They know what buzz words will protect them from accountability and answering why when the rape clearance rate in Seattle is under 10% they are wasting our resources going after asset forfeiture rich weed growers. They know what a joke they are, so try to cover their sleazy tracks with lies about "modern day slavery" so people don;t ask why the are stealing all that money and are only interested in crimes that have money to steal.
This is why I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that reform with not work. We need to defund the police and rebuild them from scratch.
Habitual liars like officer MikeXW who behave worse than the criminals they pretend to protect us from can't be reformed because they are worse than the criminals due to a complete lack of accountability. They must be defunded and rebuilt and we must create some mechanism to stop them from habitually lying to the public about everything the do the way the currently are.
@33: "Those sympathetic human traffickers"
Gas-lighting to shield the police from accountability. What a surprise coming from you.
"Human trafficking" is a serious charge. Can you provide any evidence, or a charge relating to this? If this was found and they police did not mention it, or charge for it, can you explain why?
I'll wait for your explanation after you get done helping the cops shovel the money of other people into their police cruiser for the heinous crime of growing and selling weed. I mean, who can worry about rape and murder when we have serious pot growers and distributors "hiding in plane site!"
The 1990's called. They want their war on drugs back.
@34: "These guys were growing a shit ton of weed in this woods."
Actually, they were growing cannabis with slave labor, in houses. In towns. Please do try to keep up.
"Going to these lengths to stop and prosecute them is not a worthwhile or positive use of public resources."
I think liberating all of those many human beings, who had been lured into slave labor, was a "worthwhile [and] positive use of public resources," but you're completely free to continue disagreeing.
@35, @36, @37: Please read the articles referenced @29 -- you know, the ones you'd demanded, @27? -- and see how well the acts of the criminal bosses matched definitions of "human trafficking," "indentured servitude," and "slave labor." Note also that similar operations were busted up and down the West Coast. These were not poor, innocent, POC victims of systemic discrimination who were then victimized by predatory cops -- a misrepresentation for which you're apparently a helplessly gullible sucker -- but local examples from a widepread pattern of similar criminal activities.
Many innocent persons were victimized by these criminals. Neither you nor NTK care anything at all about such crime victims, because their criminal victimizers, like the vast majority of criminals, do not wear badges. All you can do is to pretend these crime victims do not exist. That is what the Stranger is endorsing, and I hope the voters in Seattle are wise enough to reject it.
@35 "Great. You claimed you are not a cop, but have access to information "not covered in the two articles" about human slavery the police did not release to the media and you somehow know this even though you are not a cop?"
If these two articles contained the entirety of human knowledge, you'd have a great point, but they don't. I was using information from other articles, the ones I linked to as you requested. I'm not sure how you could say the information in these articles wasn't released to the media because, well, they're media articles. The only thing that makes sense is that you only read the first line of my response and not the articles with statements from the people who were trafficked about how they were trafficked. You aren't that stupid, but the mental contortions you're going through to ignore a bunch of people that were trafficked just because it's politically inconvenient for you isn't something to be proud of.
@35, @36, @37: You've complained that prosecutors do not charge police with crimes, and you're supporting a candidate for City Attorney who has stated she will not prosecute most of the crimes which fall under the prosecutorial purview of that office. Now, suddenly you claim that a lack of charges is proof no crime happened. Thank you for validating my previous decision, of not attempting honest dialog with you. You are clearly not capable of honesty, at least not when laws, cops, and prosecutors are the topics of dialog.
The link NTK provides to "Operation Green Jade" describes how law enforcement and prosecutors were investigating interstate drug cartels. They expected to find cannabis grown in amounts illegal under Washington state law, and shipped to states where cannabis remains illegal, in violation of those states' laws, and in violation of federal law. All of this they did indeed find in these cases (and in many more cases as well, which NTK does not mention).
What they also found was a trade in human beings, including slavery. That is an entirely different set of crimes, ones the law enforcement operations were not prepared to handle. That alone could explain why charges of human trafficking and slavery were not immediately forthcoming. As the articles @29 describe, many of the victims of human trafficking and slavery were not eager to provide evidence and testimony against their victimizers, because many of the humans trafficked had been admitted to the US illegally, and knew it. This is another reason charges may have not been filed immediately, if at all.
You're supporting a candidate who finds traffic in human beings, and even slavery, simply not worthy of mention, and writes sympathetically about how persons caught perpetrating these crimes are themselves really just victims of discrimination and predatory police. Attacking other commenters here for calling attention to these facts really doesn't address the root of your problem, now does it?
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