Armored Car Company Sues California Sheriff and FBI for ‘Highway Robbery’ of Dispensary Cash

An armored car business promises that officers from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stole legally attained cash from motorists and clients.

Empyreal Logistics, a enterprise that transports dollars for dispensaries and other providers, submitted a civil match in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Eastern Division. Empyreal does not even transport hashish itself—just massive quantities of dollars for cannabis-relevant providers. The firm operates in many states.

Police and federal brokers figured out the trucks catered to cannabis corporations, so they picked off vans of dollars as although they ended up sitting down ducks, even however the corporations are condition-authorized.

The lawful team for Empyreal accuses the FBI and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office of allegedly scheming to illegally pull about firm cars and seize income from its customers.

The Institute for Justice stories that all through five unique stops, no arrests or tickets were being given—yet they led to forfeiture of all deposits in the vans, in any case. Three certain stops by yourself amounted to over $1 million in hard cash.

“Specifically, Plaintiff Empyreal Logistics, a cash-in-transit corporation running in 28 states, troubles the ongoing stops and searches of its motor vehicles, and the seizure of dollars and other house lawfully transported therein,” the civil accommodate reads. 

It proceeds, “These illegal and unconstitutional stops, lookups, and seizures are orchestrated by the Division of Justice and its subordinate law-enforcement businesses, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, in conjunction with local regulation-enforcement officers, like the San Bernardino County Sheriff. With each other, these legislation-enforcement companies are concentrating on armored motor vehicles owned by Empyreal due to the fact those vehicles are transporting cash proceeds from state-authorized health-related and adult-use hashish dispensaries to legitimate economical establishments this kind of as banks and credit history unions. Notably, Empyreal under no circumstances transports any real cannabis.”

What is especially alarming is the stops involving the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department—where cannabis is authorized.

The issue isn’t confined to California. Starting in May 2021, Empyreal’s cars have been stopped and searched by sheriff’s deputies five times, with two incidents in Kansas and a few far more in San Bernardino County, California. The 3 San Bernardino incidents took location about the training course of just eight weeks, together with the most current end January 6. 

A person incident concerned an worker of Empyreal all through a site visitors quit on May possibly 18 in Dickinson County, Kansas immediately after becoming collected by the staff from health-related cannabis dispensaries in Missouri. In that incident, Empyreal is seeking the return of $165,000 in hard cash.

Transporting significant quantities of funds is due to the federal legal standing of cannabis, which bars most hashish organizations from dealing with financial institutions.

As it turns out, some lawful professionals pointed to a motive for the questionable seizures.

The Institute for Justice notes that just about every time officers seized money (authorized proceeds), they turned it around to federal companies to go as a result of federal forfeiture protocols. If efficiently forfeited, up to 80 percent of the funds taken by the federal “equitable sharing” plan would then return to regional sheriffs to shell out as they make sure you.

In addition, businesses these kinds of as Empyreal are regarded as essential, simply because moving the cash off of houses decreases the danger amount for robberies.

Though sheriffs might assume they can use the federal equitable sharing application as a loophole all over point out legislation, the forfeitures are not authorized less than federal legislation possibly.

JD Supra notes that irrespective of a modern Supreme Courtroom ruling less than Timbs v. Indiana, “asset forfeiture legal guidelines still stand as uniquely efficient enforcement resources that the county’s federal, condition, and community regulation enforcement officers have at their disposal, posing a danger to the recreational cannabis industry.”