They found no drugs on him whatsoever. They never saw him selling drugs or committing a crime of any sort. But the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) claims that they are “certain” that 22-year-old Joseph Rivers is a “drug dealer.”
What makes them so sure?
When the young African American man set out to make a music video in Hollywood, after scraping together the funds, the Michigan native had the $16,000 for the shoot on him.
That’s it. Nothing else. Having the money for this video on him, as he traveled from Michigan to Los Angeles was sufficient “evidence” that he was a drug dealer, even though no drugs were found on him, and even though there was no link made between him and any criminal element.
Just the mere existence of that much money in a young African American’s possession – on his way to try to make it big in Hollywood – was enough “evidence” for the DEA to rob him of his hard earned money, and the capital for his new business.
When Rivers switched trains at the Amtrak station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, back on April 15, the DEA searched his bags containing his clothes, other possessions as well as the envelope filled with the $16,000 in cash, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
The DEA agents picked out passengers “at random” – which meant anyone who they thought “fit the profile” of a “drug dealer.”
Apparently that meant a young African American man. Rivers was the only African American in his car, according to all witnesses who saw the highway robbery take place.
The cash, as it were, was actually still in a bank envelop. Did the bank buy drugs from him?
River’s explained the situation to the agents and even called his mother to tell them that his story was legit. The DEA thieves didn’t care one bit.
“These officers took everything that I had worked so hard to save and even money that was given to me by family that believed in me,” Rivers said in an interview with the Journal.
“I told them 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.”
Sean Waite, the agent in charge at the DEA’s Albuquerque’s office, admitted that “we don’t have to prove that the person is guilty. It’s that the money is presumed to be guilty.”
Michael Pancer, a San Diego attorney is representing Rivers. He explains it like this: “What this is, is having your money stolen by a federal agent acting under the color of law. It’s a national epidemic,” he added.“If my office got four to five cases just recently, and I’m just one attorney, you know this is happening thousands of times.”
Pancer says that he and his client are challenging the DEA asset forfeiture. He explained in a letter to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), that Rivers’ race clearly “played a role in the incident,” and that the DEA was not only stealing money, but using racial profiling and discrimination to line the administration’s pockets.
Rep. Conyers refused to comment on this or on “active litigation.”
(Article by M. David and Reagan Ali)