A pair of New Mexico businessmen were driving along Interstate 40 in Oklahoma late one night in April when a sheriff’s deputy flipped on his lights and sirens and pulled over their BMW sedan, NBC News reports.
The deputy asked Nang Thai and Weichuan Liu for their licenses, where they were going and whether they were carrying any money, according to Thai. Thai — who speaks English with a heavy accent (Liu speaks very little English at all) — told the officer they were headed to a hotel in Oklahoma City and, yes, had cash on them. In fact, they had a large amount of cash in the vehicle: more than $100,000, which Thai says they brought to pay for a 10-acre plot of farmland they were closing on in the morning.
They had no way of knowing at the time but Thai and Liu were about to begin an hours-long ordeal that would leave them stripped of all their cash and searching for answers. Their experience highlights the controversial law enforcement practice known as civil asset forfeiture, in which police can confiscate a person’s cash or other property even without bringing criminal charges.
The men are now fighting to get it back. Adding insult to injury, they contend that the amount the sheriff’s office says it confiscated – $131,500 – is actually $10,000 short of the total they had in their car that day.
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“Now I have to prove I’m innocent, and they are the ones who illegally took my money and basically stole some of my money, too,” said Thai.
Read the full story on NBCNews.com.