Policing for profit.
Texas has broad civil forfeiture laws that offer little protection for property owners- and it uses them, as well as federal equitable sharing, aggressively. In civil forfeiture proceedings, the state must show that property is related to a crime and subject to forfeiture by a preponderance of the evidence. This standard is significantly lower than beyond a reasonable doubt finding required for criminal conviction.
Between 2001 and 2007, Texas law enforcement received more that $225 million in civil forfeiture proceeds under state law…
Institute for Justice.org
The sheen of well polished blue flake paint danced on the hood in the afternoon Texas sun, and it caught my attention as I turned slowly pass the elementary school. The Isuzu pick-up was lowered, but rode real smooth, and accelerated surely and evenly out of the school zone. Behind the bench seat sat several hundreds of dollars in high end car audio and speaker boxes. Thus qualifying this ride to affectionately be called the “thumper truck”.
The volume under my direction, sprung up, and I had no doubt the neighborhood heard me coming. The truck had belonged to an unsuccessful plumbers helper turned unsuccessful business man, I had met a few days before. Diego, however, had no need for it anymore. He is spending time away inside for what he and I did together in this very truck the day we met.
Honestly, I liked the look of the truck from the moment I saw it. So much so, I even called dibs. I felt very strongly it suited me. It gave me an air of credibility. My teammates agreed.
A few evenings back, from behind my mask, I watched as my teammates broke in and wrestled down and subdued every one that moved in Diego’s apartment. It was over in a minute. The smell of pot was thick. Beer cans and pizza boxes from an impromptu Xbox party littered the living room and Diego whimpered and laid face down in all of it. He sounded scared. He sounded desperate.
He gave up the location of the money, $600 by this time, and the keys to his truck. My truck.
The fresh night air flew away as I opened the truck door and was met by the same smells from inside the apartment. I began praying he hadn’t stashed a gun or left a joint in the ashtray. I didn’t want to deal with that now. I just wanted sleep.
The next evening Diego told my boss about Tomas. Diego told him because my boss wanted Diego to sign over his Isuzu pick and the next 90 days in exchange for it. Diego realized he would be home by the holidays and when he weighed that against an uncertain future involving Huntsville’s Tennessee Colony prison unit, the newly successful deal maker chose wisely.
Afterwards, when I was told about Tomas, I had an immediate dislike for him. Especially because he lived with his mother and that he sold cocaine from the porch there. It was a corner lot and was in fair condition. She earned it, he has it. Arrogant fool. Time to pay.
So it begins, I pull up in front of the address supplied by newly convicted Diego and announced myself to a young man seated on the porch. He was more a boy, and should probably be at that school I passed right about now, I told him that Diego has sent me to speak to Tomas. As he went inside, I saw that my boss had parked at the school in my rear view. My fingers found the volume and I fidget with it only to be sure I could be heard. I looked down at the gym bag on the floorboard, and then moved my gun to underneath my leg out of sight.
“Tomas?” “I’m Danny, Diego is my nephew.” “Look man Diego got popped. I wanted to come through and show we are still down for business.”
Tomas was average looking, slim and not too bright. He met my eyes and just like that began to let his guard down. I put my foot on the brake pedal firmly as I called him over closer. “Look what I got man.” I reached over to the gym bag, placed it on my lap and opened it, exposing to him the same pound of marijuana that Diego brought to me in exchange for 7 marked $100 bills. “I am dropping this off close by. You think once I get my money I can come and party with coke?”
Tomas smiled and asked me my favorite question: “How much?”
“If it’s good, three bills.” I answered. “Here is $20 let me see what’s up.” A nod from Tomas and the young boy walked up and dropped the foil in my lap as Tomas took my money. I dislike him even more now.
“How long you gonna be?” Tomas asked in his best business voice.
“Well before dark,” I motioned to the gym bag, “I do plan to smoke some of this with them. What’s the matter, you gotta go get it?”
“No, I got it here, I just wanted a time.”
“That’s what I want to hear, thanks Tomas, I will see you soon.”
My turn signal showed everyone I was clear. The Isuzu pulled away slowly and I began to wonder how much Tomas was going to give me. The warrant would take less than an hour to get. My boss will take the house Tomas grew up in.