This past year has seen an explosion of seizures of bank accounts by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for alleged trade-based, money laundering or "structuring" deposits of cash into one or more bank accounts. The funds in the bank accounts are taken when the bank is served with a Seizure Warrant signed by a Federal Court Magistrate Judge, based upon an affidavit prepared by the DEA or ICE Agent. The Seizure Warrant itself typically alleges that the money is subject to seizure because is it the proceeds of drug activity in violation of 21 U.S.C. 881 and 18 U.S.C. 1956.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is seizing a record number of bank accounts for money laundering. A Special Agent from ICE submits an Affidavit to a Federal Judge who signs a Seizure Warrant authoring the Special Agent to serve the Seizure Warrant upon the bank and seizure whateve money is in that account. Although the seizure of such accounts may accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose in attempting to stop the illicit sale of narcotics by taking the money generated from those sales, the process is too easily abused by the U.S. Government.
Bank accounts are more frequently being frozen or seized by the Federal Government for money laundering. Often, the owners of the seized bank accounts were somehow connected to shipping cargo to, receiving cargo from, or doing business with Colombia. Legitimate business persons who are falsely accused should aggressively pursue getting their money back.