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Thread: Customs agents seized a lawful gun owner’s truck over five bullets

  1. #1

    Default Customs agents seized a lawful gun owner’s truck over five bullets

    Customs agents seized a lawful gun owner’s truck over five bullets. Now he’s suing to get it back.
    By Christopher Ingraham - September 13

    On Sept. 21, 2015, Gerardo Serrano was driving from his home in Kentucky to Piedras Negras, Mexico, when his truck was searched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at Texas's Eagle Pass border crossing. After finding a small ammunition clip, the agents took Serrano's truck from him.

    Two years later, Customs hasn't charged Serrano with a crime, and they haven't given his truck back either. Now he's suing over what he calls a violation of his constitutional rights.

    Customs seized the truck under the laws of civil asset forfeiture, which allow authorities to take cash and property from citizens upon suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. Because it happens under civil law, no criminal conviction — or even criminal charge — is necessary for authorities to take property they believe is connected to a crime.
    Serrano is originally from Chicago but he's lived on a farm in Kentucky for 20 years. A lifelong Republican, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in Kentucky's House of Representatives in 2014 on an explicitly pro-Second Amendment platform.
    In September 2015, Serrano drove his new Ford F-250 pickup from his home in Kentucky to the Mexico border. He was going to visit a cousin he hadn't seen in many years.

    He snapped a few photos with his phone as he drove through the checkpoint, planning to upload them to Facebook, just as he says he had been doing throughout his whole trip, to share the experience with friends and family back home.

    That's when the trouble started. One of Serrano's photos shows two Customs agents looking in his direction, hands held up. According to his lawsuit, the agents objected to his taking photos.

    Those agents waved him over to the side of the road, on the U.S. side of the border, and demanded he hand over his phone.

    Serrano said “no.”

    Customs declined to say whether there's a prohibition on photography at border crossings.
    According to Serrano's lawsuit, as he tried to explain himself, one of the agents unlocked Serrano's door, unbuckled his seat belt, and yanked him out of the car.

    “I know I didn't do anything wrong,” Serrano told The Post. “So I say 'listen, you can't yank me out like that, I'm an American, you can't do that to me.'”

    The agent took his phone, and demanded Serrano give him the passcode.

    Serrano recalls he told the agent to “go get a warrant.”

    By this time, other agents had started searching his truck. “I said, 'Hey listen I have rights, you're violating my rights, you're not supposed to do that kind of stuff,'” Serrano recounted.

    “I'm sick of hearing about your rights,” the agent said, according to Serrano's lawsuit. “You have no rights here.”

    Eventually, one of the agents searching the truck found an ammunition clip containing five .380-caliber bullets and yelled “we got him!,” according to the lawsuit.
    At the crossing, the CBP agents put Serrano in handcuffs and continued to ask him to give up the passcode.

    “You go get that warrant,” Serrano says he told them. “I'll wait for you in jail.”

    Serrano didn't believe that any judge would grant a warrant to search a phone for taking pictures at the border. He says he was trying to call what he believed to be the agents' bluff. “A lot of people don't understand basic civil rights,” he said.

    For Serrano, there was also the principle of the whole thing.

    “I ran for office here in Kentucky,” Serrano said. “I ran on principles of the Constitution and my rights. Everyone knows me as a Second Amendment guy. It would be hypocritical of me to talk one way in my home state and then give [CBP] what [they] want. I have to stand by my principles.”

    The agents eventually placed Serrano in a locked cell without food, water or a toilet, Serrano says. Periodically someone would come in and ask for the passcode to his phone, he says. He refused every time.

    Serrano says that after three hours, the agents told him he was free to go, returned his phone and said he wasn't being arrested or charged with any crime. Serrano says he was elated and thought he “wore them out.”

    But then, the agents handed him a document informing him that Customs was taking his truck and the ammunition clip. Those items were “subject of legally becoming the property of the Federal Government (forfeiture),” according to the document, because Serrano had failed to disclose the presence of the clip, making the truck a “conveyance of illegal exportation.”
    Twitter: B4Liberty@USAB4L
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Corporate-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
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    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

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  3. #2


    If I was traveling from Kentucky to Coahuila I would be prepared to give any $#@! more than just five bullets .

  4. #3


    They are fighting for our freedoms.

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