After lengthy legal battle. the DEA reluctantly returns innocent man's life savings

The Drug Enforcement Administration, well-known for its internal corruption, corrupting influence on others, racism, and making the world less equitable and more violent, begrudgingly returned $30,000 it took from Kermit Warren, "an out-of-work shoeshine man from New Orleans, was carrying nearly $30,000 in cash through the airport in Columbus, Ohio," reports NBC News.

I wrote about the DEA's crime against Warren in August, where I said: "Kermit Warren shined shoes at a hotel and collects scrap metal for a living. Besides serving in the Army Corps of Engineers, he is a deacon at his church and is a proud grandfather. None of that mattered to the Drug Enforcement Administration which used civil forfeiture laws to swipe his life savings that he was going to use to buy a truck."

From Institute for Justice, which came to Warren's aid to get his money back:

At the Columbus airport, TSA screeners noticed that Kermit had a large amount of cash in his bag. They asked him about it but let him continue to his gate. Later, as Kermit and Leo were waiting to board their flight, DEA agents approached them and asked questions about Kermit's cash. The officers were uninterested in Kermit's and Leo's evidence about the source and purpose of the money; it was clear the officers were simply there to take it. Kermit panicked and did something he greatly regrets: In a last-ditch effort to avoid losing his hard-earned life savings, he told the agents that he was a retired New Orleans police officer and showed them his other son's old badge, which Kermit keeps for sentimental reasons. The officers saw through this right away and Kermit admitted that he was not a former cop.

The DEA agents took all of Kermit's money. But they did not arrest Kermit or Leo or charge them with any crime. Instead, the agents let them board their plane to New Orleans without Kermit's life savings.

About six months later, the government filed a civil forfeiture complaint in federal court, arguing that Kermit's money should be permanently taken because it is somehow connected to drug activity. But the government's allegations do not connect Kermit or his money to any crime. Instead, the government contends that Kermit vaguely fits the profile of a drug courier. But the government should not be able to take property forever with flimsy evidence; it should have to prove someone's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

From NBC News:

With his savings gone and the Covid pandemic depriving him of steady work, the longtime church deacon barely scraped by. He said he wasn't even able to buy his seven grandchildren Christmas gifts.

"This last year has truly been a nightmare for me," said Warren, 58.

But this week, he received good news: federal prosecutors agreed to return all of his money and dismiss the case, according to a settlement agreement signed Thursday and obtained by NBC News.

"It gives me a great amount of joy and peace," Warren said. "What happened to me should never happen to anybody in this world."

Thousands of people are stopped and stripped of their money each year by U.S. law enforcement under a process known as civil asset forfeiture.

The controversial practice allows the government to seize people's property – even without filing criminal charges – if it is suspected of being linked to criminal activity.

The DEA refused to give NBC News a comment.