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Meth Dealer Faces Loss of His Comic Book Collection 317

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-their-pound-of-flash dept.
cultiv8 writes "According to an article from The Smoking Gun: 'A large-scale methamphetamine dealer who allegedly laundered drug profits by purchasing valuable comic books is in danger of forfeiting his 18,753-volume collection to Uncle Sam, according to a new court filing. Federal prosecutors yesterday filed a US District Court complaint seeking ownership of the comic book holdings of Aaron Castro, 30, who is facing a May trial in Colorado on narcotics distribution and weapons charges. The comics are valued in excess of $500,000.'"
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Meth Dealer Faces Loss of His Comic Book Collection

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:17PM (#35398012)

    Do not bang your head against the display case, please! There is a very valuable Mary Worth inside, in which she has advised a friend to commit suicide. Thank you!

  • ... It's a meth dealer! It's a shame that these comics will probably be ruined in some humid evidence locker for a few years until he goes to trail. I guess he'll just have to read regular "affordable" comics while he's in prison.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:37PM (#35398196)

      Dude, I don't think the guy reads comics.

      Secondly, I think this is a clever way of laundering money. A bunch of small purchases that (should have) gone unnoticed, and then, one big sale of these on ebay while paying the income tax and paper trailing everything. Pretty smart, except for the fact that he got caught.

  • by Jiro (131519) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:24PM (#35398080)

    I can't for the life of me figure out why this merits a Slashdot story. Even if you conclude "Slashdot readers are geeks, geeks have comic book collections" it's pretty unlikely that many Slashdot readers use their collections to launder drug money.

    • Re:Why is this here? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:28PM (#35398110)

      It means a comic book collection worth $500,000 will be going on sale at auction at bargain basement prices.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Xelios (822510)
      I had to go look up "money laundering" in a dictionary...
    • by blindseer (891256)

      It might not be relevant because of how the money was laundered but how the money was obtained. Judging by many posts on Slashdot there just HAS to be mind altering substances involved. Maybe we need a poll asking what controlled substances people are taking right now.

    • Re:Why is this here? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Seumas (6865) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:56PM (#35398908)

      Seriously? How about the fact that the government is seeking ownership of half a million dollars in posessions that belong to a man who has not yet been convicted? Should you lose your comic or game collection or your car or even your home for merely being *accused* and tried for a crime? If the government has any business taking your property at ANY time, shouldn't it at least be AFTER you are CONVICTED? You know, when you've been found to actually be GUILTY?

  • Illegal fines (Score:2, Informative)

    by Iamthecheese (1264298)
    Forfeiture of all of one's earthly possessions is a common punishment for being suspected of a drug-related crime. It reminds me of similar [yadvashem.org] forfeitures [wikipedia.org] required [catholic-history.org.uk] in the past.
    • by Kosi (589267)

      I did not go to your links, but would you please care to elaborate? I don't recall the "witches" in Salem dealing with drugs, and neither did the Nazis. And the only drug sold by the catholic church is religion, which is unfortunately legal.

      • Nutshell: The Salem Witch Trials were a farce to effect a land grab from property owners.

        • Not to mention a superstitious overreaction to ergot [wikimedia.org] poisoning caused by eating infected rye grain.

        • by Kosi (589267)

          Ah, ok and that trial for dealing meth is just a farce to grab his comic books. Thanks or enlightening me.

          Serious, I believe that they just want to make sure that these assets are still there when the trial is over, and he will get them back when not proven guilty.

          • Re:Illegal fines (Score:5, Insightful)

            by dreampod (1093343) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @06:36PM (#35400700)

            They could freeze or seize assets until after the trial finds someone guilty or innocent if they wanted - but they don't. Instead they sue the items themselves under a rediculous legal theory so as to bypass the owners 5th amendment rights and get the lower burden of proof required under civil law. If the accussed drug dealer is found not guilty there is no return of assets, replacement, or money received from the sale given to them. Regardless of the outcome of the criminal trial the assets are permanently and irrevocably gone and typically the money from the sale goes into the police coffers. This creates a perverse incentive to lay insufficiently founded drug charges against people with easily disposed of assets to fundraise for chronically underfunded police departments. Worse yet, in some jurisdictions, the sales go primarily to police and their friends at dramatically below market value who then turn around and sell them a second time at more reasonable rates and pocket the profit. Even in the cases where the charges are laid in good faith, the disposal of assets prior to conviction and failure to compensate is profoundly contrary to the way the legal system is intended to operate.

            In this particular case, the charges are probably legitimately laid against someone who there is reasonable evidence of commiting the crime. The farce is that even if he can prove that he didn't, he is still out $500,000 without legal recourse.

      • History is full of self-perpetuating, self-funded witch trials of one kind or another. Funds stolen from $group_to_be_persecuted are split between people in power and those doing the persecuting. The general population is told do dehumanize and fear $group_to_be_persecuted to allow it to continue.
  • by Kosi (589267) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:29PM (#35398122)

    It is absolutely normal that the assets made with crimes get confiscated. Maybe except for the not so usual form of investment, why is this worthy mentioning?

    • You're right- it's not very newsworthy. But you're halfway to a possible answer. The other half is because to geeks the seizing of one's comics stash might seem cruel.

      Add in some good old Slashdot libertarianism and you've got a bit of constitutional humor.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      The fact that there are presumably in the near future going to be $500k worth of comic books going up on government auction. It doesn't sound like these were seized for evidence, but were being seized as spoils of crime. They'll get auctioned off and I'll wager a lot of /. posters will be interested.

      The question though is why this is a YRO story. It happened in real life and not online, it's been well established that the government can seize property purchased with stolen or otherwise illegally obtained mo

    • IT may be the 'norm', but it is far from normal.
      • by Kosi (589267)

        So, you want to advocate that e. g. a thief should be allowed to keep what he stole?

    • by sjames (1099)

      Because they're making the grab for his assets before proving him guilty of a crime?

      • by Kosi (589267)

        That's also normal. I bet that also his bank accounts are frozen until he's proven guilty or not. Without that, there would never be anything left over to confiscate after the trial.

  • War on drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damicatz (711271) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:37PM (#35398190)
    The war on drugs is nothing more than a war on the American people by a bunch of holier-than-thou moral imperialists. It has squandered trillions of dollars in taxpayer money and claimed tens if not hundreds of thousands of lives over the years. It doesn't stop drug use and merely floods our prisons with people whose only "crime" is simple possession. Prohibition didn't work for alcohol and it certainly isn't working for drugs.
    • Re:War on drugs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kosi (589267) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:44PM (#35398244)

      I totally agree with that. The war should not be "on drugs", but on the reasons why people chose taking them.

      • Re:War on drugs (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:54PM (#35398366)

        that would be a war on society, then.

        society (its complexity) causes people to need to 'get away' from that very society.

        interesting, huh?

        • by sjames (1099)

          So we should spend those resources on reforming the more aversive aspects of society.

        • by houghi (78078)

          War on society would mean war on everybody. That would mean that everybody is a criminal and everybody should be followed closely without the right to any privacy.

          Wait, I think we are on to something here.

        • by Kosi (589267)

          War on those aspects of society that make people chose to take drugs (in unhealthy manners). For example the massive pressure to achieve wealth and/or power in our western society, caused by the big lie capitalism is built on - that everyone can "make" it, if he just works hard enough.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        I totally agree with that. The war should not be "on drugs", but on the reasons why people chose taking them.

        War on friends, peer pressure, and addiction?

        • by Kosi (589267)

          War on false friends and lack of self-esteem. And except for the poor babies of addicted mothers, no one is born with an addiction, you develop that. I know what I'm talking about here.

      • by sco08y (615665)

        I totally agree with that. The war should not be "on drugs", but on the reasons why people chose taking them.

        Or maybe it shouldn't be called a war at all? I don't think it's unreasonable to say we should reserve war for our mortal enemies.

        This tendency of declaring war on arbitrary things goes back to progressives, such as Woodrow Wilson, who saw the military as a means of organizing and unifying society. That's why, for example, he declared a "war on poverty." You still see it with modern liberals, like Rahm Emanuel, who proposed "basic training, civil defense preparation, and community service" for everyone aged

        • by DavidTC (10147)

          Erm, the War on Poverty was from President Lyndon B. Johnson, not Woodrow Wilson.

          And it's sorta silly to pretend it's just the left that uses 'war' now. Nixon invented 'War on Drugs'. Also 'War on Cancer' for some reason. (This was back when we thought all cancer might be caused by a single virus, instead of the dozens of things that cause it.)

          The War on (some) Drugs and War on Terror are the only militarized 'Wars'...the War on Poverty was just the idea we should put as many resources towards ending pove

      • by LainTouko (926420)

        Well, I take alcohol because a little bit makes me outgoing. But I don't think stopping me from wanting to be friendly is the answer. Indeed I don't think my drug-taking is a problem in the first place.

        It's impossible to understand the drugs issue while you use the word 'drug' to refer only to substances which aren't sufficiently mainstream to remain legal. The notion that there's some sort of fundamental difference between popular drugs and drugs only taken by a small minority, to the point that the latter

        • by Kosi (589267)

          Well, I take alcohol because a little bit makes me outgoing. But I don't think stopping me from wanting to be friendly is the answer.

          Correct. But the answer is to learn how to socialize without ethanol or other substances as a crutch. It may work for you, but for many people this way leads down the drain.

          Indeed I don't think my drug-taking is a problem in the first place.

          Yes, many people consuming drugs (legal or illegal) don't run into serious problems with that. But around 10 percent develop an addiction, and a good part of the other 90 percent tend to an unhealthy consume.

          What I meant with "war on the reasons" was that normally people have a reason why they develop unhealthy substance consume. Some ca

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Anytime you have a large number of people who are that self centered you end up where we are currently. The reality is that it's as much the drug users that are causing the problems as the prohibitionists. Pretending otherwise is pretty dishonest, if you buy drugs you're likely to be funding narco-terrorism. I mean where precisely do you think the drug cartels get their money from?

      Suggesting that it's more the prohibitionists fault than the people who are buying the banned substances is questionable at bes

    • by westlake (615356)

      Prohibition didn't work for alcohol and it certainly isn't working for drugs.

      Per capita consumption of beer in the U.S., 1911-1915, 29 gallons.

      In 1934, 13 gallons.

      In the prosperous mid-fifties, 23 gallons. Drinking in America: A History [hoboes.com]

      • by DavidTC (10147)

        What that statistic, in addition to the fact that the population switched en mass to hard liquor from beer, doesn't mention is that prohibition resulted in vastly more women and children drinking. Before, it was essentially unthinkable for women to drink in public. Afterward, check out any picture of a speakeasy.

        Prohibition is an interesting story, but it's important to realize it wasn't about 'drinking' per se. Prohibition was about the fact that men would get blackout drunk, and fail to support their fam

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by orphiuchus (1146483)

      Just because the laws on Marijuana are poorly thought out, ineffective, and unnecessary doesn't mean that all drug laws are.

      Prohibition is necessary in the case of hard drugs. Its true that we need to attack it from all angles, but legalization and taxation of most of the illegal drugs would be a societal disaster the scale of which we have never seen.

      • by LainTouko (926420)

        Just because the laws on Marijuana are poorly thought out, ineffective, and unnecessary doesn't mean that all drug laws are.

        Prohibition is necessary in the case of hard drugs. Its true that we need to attack it from all angles, but legalization and taxation of most of the illegal drugs would be a societal disaster the scale of which we have never seen.

        Alcohol and tobacco are legalised and taxed. If neither of them are hard drugs, I don't know what is.

        Before we prohibited heroin in this country (UK), there were only about 500 addicts in the whole country, and they could still live their lives with a reasonable amount of normality. Prohibition came, and now 50,000 risk death from adulterated doses of uncertain strength and are forced by prohibitionists to steal or sell themselves to pay black-market prices.

        I'd like the societal disaster back.

      • by DavidTC (10147)

        A disaster? Why?

        Please state the actual problems that heroin addition causes that happy is guaranteed a continual supply of heroin:

        ...

        Oh, that's right, there aren't any. In fact, a lot of soldiers got addicted to heroin, given as a painkiller, in WWI and managed to go decades by just, you know, buying heroin and taking it every day. Not saying it's a good thing, but it's hardly going to destroy society.

        LSD? No known health effects, and, incidentally, flashbacks are a myth.

        Ecstasy? You can dehydrate eas

    • by darkonc (47285)
      We should make war on the reason why pushers push these drugs onto people -- profits -- and not just why kids take them. Most kids that do Meth do it because they're addicted. Avoiding the addiction means removing the incentive to 'market' it.

      Most of the problems with the lighter drugs (like Pot) have to do with the fact that the drug is illegal. As such, legalization would go a long way (but not all the way) to minimizing the harm that they do. The other step would be to regulate the drugs such that i

      • by DavidTC (10147)

        I don't think we should allow any profit on cocaine, PCP, or meth, or any recreational drug more addictive than caffeine or alcohol. (Or, let's say, any drug that can kill you with withdrawal.) Or allow any branding, or anything.

        You want to buy them, you go to a free clinic or something, and convince them you're addicted. Then you go to a pharmacy, which will sell it to you at the cost the government supplies it to them. That's it. No profit. In fact, the pharmacy is actually out some employee time. (That

  • He was just swiching from trading illegal, addictive substances to other market addictive, but this time legal, things, and they put him in jail?
    • by hedwards (940851)

      He was using the proceeds of his criminal enterprise to buy comic books, some of the larger sales apparently attracted some attention and upon investigation it was determined where the money was coming from. It has to be settled in court whether or not he's guilty, but assuming he is, this is standard procedure. Criminals aren't typically allowed to profit from their crimes by buying things.

    • If he's a meth dealer and he's using the comic books to launder his drug profits, then there's nothing unusual about this other than the method of laundering.

      If he had been trading houses to launder his drug money, this wouldn't have made page 34 of his local paper, much less the front page of Slashdot. Even so, there's not a whole lot to say about it.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @01:42PM (#35398230) Journal

    Can you imagine the place in prison hierarchy for comic book guy?

    Sex, drugs and comic books... although since this is comic book guy, he probably skipped on sex... until now.

    • by don.g (6394)

      One of the (many, many) things I detest about prison rape jokes is that it's really a serious problem. If you're condoning rape as an acceptable sentence from your country's justice system... then I don't know what to say. If you just haven't thought about it, you might want to.

      • by Dhalka226 (559740)
        Joking about something is not an indication that it is not serious, nor that it is not taken seriously. To leap that a prison rape joke means anybody is condoning prison rape is inappropriate.
  • The guy is allegedly laundering money with the comic books. The police are confiscating the evidence. What makes this unusual?

    • by sjames (1099)

      They aren't confiscating evidence, they are taking ownership. The police are suing the comic books for the tort of being bought with drug money. (Yes, the comics themselves are the defendant of record!). They are doing this well in advance of the person's criminal trial. In other words, they are presuming his guilt and circumventing his 5th amendment rights through the absurd practice of suing an inanimate object.

      If they would care to prove him guilty in a court of law and the law allows loss of proceeds t

  • in the Property Room? Cos if he is, those comic books are history.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:15PM (#35398532)

    Crockett: "I need a new Ferrari! Didn't we confiscate anything from drug dealers that I can drive!?!?!"

    Castillo: "Sorry, Sonny, no. But here, read some Incredible Hulk, Spider Man and Richie Rich. It will cheer you up.

  • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:40PM (#35398754)

    Assuming the facts are presented correctly, what this guy was doing is simple old fashioned money laundering. He was buying something with drug money so he could later sell it and have clean money. Comic books are actually a smart way to do this, its unlikely that anyone would suspect it.

    Here's an example of how it may have worked:
    1. Dude sells $500 of meth.
    2. Dude takes the $500 cash to a comic book convention.
    3. Dude buys a comic book for ~$500
    4. Dude sells the same comic book for $450 in clean, crisp, legal bills
    5. Repeat 1-4
    6. Profit!
    7.?
    8. Prison!

    • by cptnapalm (120276) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @05:59PM (#35400362)

      Except the story didn't say anything about him selling comics. Just buying them. Buying over 18,000 of them.

      “Gwinn said that Aaron began to struggle with money because he would spend his drug money on comic books.”

      It would be funny if he turned to meth dealing as a way to finance his addictive comic book collection habit.

  • A useful mental exercise on the topic of drugs. Imagine if the coca leaf had been known to the native Americans in North America, becoming part of their traditions, and the tobacco leaf had only been found in the south of the continent...
  • Fucking good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377&gmail,com> on Sunday March 06, 2011 @02:49PM (#35398854) Homepage

    I don't hold any sympathy for anyone in the Meth food chain. If this were Joe the pot guy losing his collection, I'd be just a bit bummed. But this is an entirely different ballgame. There's a whole class of drugs out there that really are "bad" drugs, and meth is one of 'em. Show me someone who's been smoking pot for 30 years, then go and try to find someone who's been doing meth for 30 years. Aside from a lack of motivation and a glorious set of man boobs, the pot head's probably ok. The meth user has probably either been dead for twenty years or in jail. The incredible screw job that meth does to your neurochemistry makes anything Glaxo SmithKlien is doing look like two cups of coffee and a mountain dew chaser.

    A couple of apocryphal internet stories for you; A friend of mine moonlighted as a prison shrink while stationed in the Pacific Northwest in the AF. He ended up dealing with a lot of the royally fucked up folks. Those who weren't either A. genuine psychopaths or B. the products of horribly fucked up situations were meth addicts. According to him, the nicest guy he dealt with was an actual axe murderer who hacked up a couple of people while tweaked. Once he was in prison and clean, he wasn't a bad person.

    My wife is a librarian. When we lived in northern Indiana, one of the more common problems that rural libraries faced was the loss of children's books due to meth lab exposure. The kids would check the book out, take it home, and it would come back reeking of the various chemicals the poor kid was being exposed to at home. If this guy spent any time around production, these comics are toast.

    In short, fuck this guy. You want to bitch about the big bad government and your civil liberties? You want to be all cool and snarky by throwing a (tm) after the phrase "war on drugs", go do it on a norml forum. When it comes to tweaks, fuck 'em, there ain't a hole deep enough.

  • by Seumas (6865) on Sunday March 06, 2011 @03:42PM (#35399314)

    I've read enough comments here that seem to completely miss what is going on here and are completely ignorant on the abuse by our government in violating the Fourth Amendment. The assumption by everyone seems to be one of two things. Either the police are seizing property as evidence of a crime committed (in which case, you would presume it will be returned if he's found innocent) or that he has been found guilty and they're taking his ill-gotten gains.

    That is not the case.

    What they're doing is taking possession of someone's property. Someone who has not been convicted of a crime through a fair trial, yet. Then they're going to sell it and keep the profit. Does that sound right to you? Shouldn't you receive a trial and be found guilty of a crime, before paying for that crime?

    In fact, not only do you not have to be found guilty through trial of an actual crime in this country for the government to steal your property and sell it for themselves, but you don't have to even be charged with a crime, in many cases. I went looking for something to explain it to those who care to be enlightened (by what I thought was common knowledge, but by the reactions on Slashdot to this article, seems to be foreign to 80% of us). I actually found a well composed video that from the Institute for Justice

    (video 2m30s) - Policing for Profit - The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture [ij.org]

    Essentially, what has been happening for about thirty years, is that instead of charging YOU with a crime, the government charges your PROPERTY with a crime. Your property can't defend itself, so it is assumed "guilty". They take the property, sell it at auction, and then split it up among various government departments. All without YOU being convicted. Or even tried in a court of law. Or even being charged with a crime. It is currently a billion-dollar scam in this country.

    So save your "durr durr meth dealer bad!" bullshit. You aren't a hard-ass for saying "throw away the key!" or "execute this guy!" or "he deserves it!". You just look ignorant for not considering the due process we have in this country that protects people like you and me from being railroaded without evidence. Maybe the guy IS guilty. That's fine. If he's guilty, throw the book at him. The mere fact that someone has charged him with a crime doesn't mean he deserves punishment nor that he deserves to have his property stolen from him, auctioned off, and then split amongst his local government agencies.

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