Asset Forfeiture – The Big Money Grab

In recent years, confiscating “drug money” has become an ever-increasing priority of the Texas Department of Public Safety. According to a recent two-part series in the Amarillo Globe-News, between January 1, 2005, and June 30, 2010, about $14.6 million in U.S. currency was seized by the Highway Patrol on the 178 mile stretch of Interstate-40 that runs through Texas.

The articles are a great read and give some insight into asset forfeiture and the big money grab.

Cashing In: Who Benefits Most from Seized Currency?

Cashing In: Sheriffs’ Offices Join the War on Drugs

The Never-Ending War on Drugs…

With an eye on the brutal drug wars in Mexico, Newsweek published a great report on the “never-ending war on drugs.” The report noted the futility of drug supply enforcement as a means to control drug availability in the United States.

According to Robert Bonner, the former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the Mexican cartels are now the most powerful drug-trafficking organizations in the world. Once, mere smugglers for the Columbian cartels, they gradually took control of all aspects of supplying and delivering cocaine–the drug trade’s No. 1 cash cow–into the U.S.–the world’s most lucrative drug market.

The United States’ forty year War on Drugs has played a significant role in pushing drug cartels from Peru and Bolivia into Columbia and then into our own backyard. With progress in Mexico, problem areas are popping up in Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica. It appears the U.S. government has recognized what many have been saying for decades, the War on Drugs is not winnable. When progress is made in one area of the world, the power center moves elsewhere–and the flow of drugs continue. As reported in Newsweek, the new U.S. policy is now one of “managing the drug problem”:

American officials have moved away from the lofty and nebulous credo of the past–winning the war on drugs–to focus on more modest and concrete aims: reducing corruption and bolstering institutions, to make sure drug traffickers cannot threaten the rule of law.

Over the past 18 months there has been an unprecedented shift among U.S. policymakers away from focusing on mostly drugs in one country or another to a comprehensive, regionwide strategy to strengthen law enforcement, the judiciary, and prison systems. “You’ll always have drug smuggling in this world,” a senior State Department official told NEWSWEEK. “The question is how do you make that manageable so it doesn’t threaten the state?”

We will see what happens in the next forty years.

Controlled Substances in Penalty Group 4

Under the provisions of §481.101 of the Health and Safety Code, controlled substances are divided into five penalty groups for the purpose of establishing penalties for the violation of the Texas Controlled Substances Act. Penalty Group 4 is listed in §481.105.

Penalty Group 4 consists of:

(1) a compound, mixture, or preparation containing limited quantities of any of the following narcotic drugs that includes one or more nonnarcotic active medicinal ingredients in sufficient proportion to confer on the compound, mixture, or preparation valuable medicinal qualities other than those possessed by the narcotic drug alone:

not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams;

not more than 100 milligrams of dihydrocodeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams;

not more than 100 milligrams of ethylmorphine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams;

not more than 2.5 milligrams of diphenoxylate and not less than 25 micrograms of atropine sulfate per dosage unit;

not more than 15 milligrams of opium per 29.5729 milliliters or per 28.35 grams; and

not more than 0.5 milligram of difenoxin and not less than 25 micrograms of atropine sulfate per dosage unit;

(2) unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another penalty group, a material, compound, mixture, or preparation containing any quantity of the narcotic drug Buprenorphine or Butorphanol or a salt of either; and

(3) unless specifically exempted or excluded or unless listed in another penalty group, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of pyrovalerone, a substance having a stimulant effect on the central nervous system, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers.

History of H&SC §481.105: Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 678, §1 (eff. Sept. 1, 1989), ch. 1100, §5.04(a)(eff. Sept. 1, 1989). Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch.761, §4, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 745, §25, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 251, §19, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.