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Man Says DEA Stole His $325,000

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The United States and its Drug Enforcement Administration illegally seized $325,000 from Jose Farias Hernandez though agents found no drugs, no evidence of drugs, no evidence of wrongdoing and had no probable cause; the Forfeiture Act is unconstitutional and the DEA's enforcement of it is racist, Farias' attorney claims in Federal Court.

The Nevada Highway Patrol seized the money from Farias on Oct. 7 after a routine traffic stop in Elko, Nev., and turned it over to the DEA. Farias is a citizen of Mexico.

There was no cause of action to seize the money; seizing it violated the 4th, 5th, 8th and 14th amendments. "Although the statute (the Forfeiture Act) is racially neutral, its de facto discriminatory effects operate harshly against Mexican nationals," the suit states. Farias claims the Forfeiture Act is unconstitutionally broad and vague, that it denies him equal protection of the laws and due process, that the money was illegally seized, that he was illegally searched, and that the seizure of the money constitutes an excessive fine. He wants the money back, plus costs and fees. He is represented by Martin James Martinez of Napa.

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