Being Detained Part 8
The owner of the vehicle will be notified by mail.
As far as the US Marshals are concerned the "owner" is the person
recorded at the state's department of motor vehicles as being
the owner. The "owner" has the right to lay claim to the vehicle.
Its seizure will be advertised in a local paper for three consecutive
weeks. Usually this advertisement will occur in some newspaper
that you would never read but is the official newspaper of official
The owner has the right to the return of his vehicle
if he simply "lent it to another", or the illegal alien discovered
in the vehicle was unknown to the owner.. a "hitchhiker" ?.
It is also possible to have the vehicle released
if it is obvious something strange had occurred. If it was a truck
carrying a dozen porta-pottys and one of the potty's was filled
with illegals then there is some reasonable chance that the owner
and driver had not a clue and so the vehicle would be released.
Then there are "rental cars". If a rental car is
seized it can only be released if there is a valid rental contract
in the car and or the rental agreement and the "renter" has the
credit card used to rent the vehicle. There will be a detailed
financial investigation of all the persons involved.
One real problem is a "taxi". These are considered
"common carriers" like buses and trains and really big airplanes
even though some taxi drivers / owners are full fledged smugglers.
Then there are cover deals. Someone might "sell"
a vehicle to a smuggler for $3,000 and the smuggler will put $100
down with the rest to be paid in full in six months. When the
car is seized it is shown that the smuggler has a very small interest
in the vehicle and the "owner" can then petition to have the car
What do you do with a mile long freight train with
illegals sitting among the freight? Do you seize the train? No.
It is a common carrier (see above).
If the vehicle was not used by a commercial smuggler
then often a $500 fine is sufficient to get the vehicle released.
Again, the vehicle may even be an airplane or a boat. Any vehicles
not returned to their "owner" will be sold at auction.
The US Marshall's Service will sell the vehicle
at a real public auction. The identity of all bidders will be
determined. If you go to an auction and are a smuggler or a criminal
alien then you can be discovered and you can get three years in
a concrete residential facility in the desert.
Most criminals are not too bright and easily returned
to "federal residences" where all the furniture has been securely
bolted to the floor. It is amazing how many people are arrested
at the front doors of prisons because they went to visit their
"ol man" and were carrying drugs, guns, whatever.
On any given day there are more than 4,000 seized
vehicles in the United States' San Ysidro Port of Entry seizure
lot alone. The storage fee is about a dollar a day. Buying one
of these vehicles at auction may be a very big mistake.
First, most people who are arrested and their vehicles
seized are messy and do not take good care of their equipment.
Second, most such vehicles were "expendable" and
were worthless to begin with.
Third - and this could be a VERY big problem for
you in the future -- the vehicle could have been used in a drug
deal and still contain drugs. Yes, the feds looked it over really
closely and removed everything that they found. But when
you drive that vehicle someplace like Mexico and get stopped and
they find 25 year old fermented-to-a-brown-paste marijuana you
will get……. five years in a Mexican prison. You will serve those
five years. If you take the vehicle in for some repair in this
country and the mechanic (who is on parole and needs a favor from
his parole officer) sees something taped underneath the car you
will spend $40,000 explaining everything to the feds through a
dapperly dressed criminal attorney.
The US Border Patrol does not get the proceeds from
the sale of the vehicle. The money goes to the US Marshal's Service.
If for some reason "it was all a mistake" and the
vehicle is not released then it is possible to file a petition
and have it adjudicated. The vehicle owner has ten days to submit
a letter for "Re-Consideration". At this point the letter goes
to the Chief Patrol Agent who can return the vehicle or release
it for sale by the US Marshals.
There are other serious things that can happen to
your property. Your real property (eg. house) can be seized under
Sec. 9192 and / or 1978 and / or 1997. This is true if you have
been manufacturing false documents or have any in your possession.