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Okla. Police can now seize funds of suspected drug traffickers with card scanners

June 20, 2016  |  Posted by: JammedUp Staff
Okla. Police can now seize funds of suspected drug traffickers with card scanners

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The Department of Public Safety in the state of Oklahoma has purchased a number of new devices that can seize funds loaded onto prepaid debit cards to assist officers in roadside seizures of assumed drug-trafficking proceeds.

The compact card scanners have been designed to be carried in police vehicles, and they allow troopers to freeze and seize money that has been loaded on any prepaid card. Additionally, the scanner allows officers to return funds to an account whose money was either seized or frozen, KTLU reported.

According to the manufacturer, Texas-based Electronic Recovery and Access to Data (ERAD) Group Inc., “The vehicle-mounted scanners are also capable of retrieving and storing limited account information from other cards as well, such as banking debit cards, credit cards, and payment account information from virtually any magnetic strip card,”

The scanners, however, may cause some debate over civil asset forfeiture in both Oklahoma and all over the country. Laws allow officers to seize property and cash that are believed to be involved in drug trafficking, and then they can take ownership of the funds through civil court claims.

Authorities believe that forfeiture of assets is a crucial step in dismantling drug trafficking operations. However, civil rights advocates’ have countered this argument by saying that the process violates civil and property liberties and can result in innocent people having their money taken without even being charged or arrested.

The scanners will enable law enforcement officials to not only seize the money that is in physical possession of the person who is pulled over, but they can also apprehend funds from the financial institution that is holding the money on the prepaid cards.

The legal director of the ACLU in Oklahoma, Brady Henderson, believes that this new device could easily violate citizens’ fourth amendment rights, and foresees the issue landing in court.

Henderson said, “I think this is likely to expand pretty radically the scope of civil asset forfeiture procedures.”

“This is a capability that law enforcement has never had before and one that is very likely to land DPS in litigation,” he added.

Typically, assets can be seized if authorities have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is involved. However, many are arguing that the utilization of the new device could cause the standard to be lowered from probable cause and that these new laws may impede on individuals’ civil rights.

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