I-80 drug stops headed by a rural Nevada sheriff have sparked a firestorm of controversy because some are claiming that the drug stops were illegal. Humboldt County Sheriff Ed Kilgore and his deputies are accused of detaining motorists on a lonely stretch of Interstate 80 to illegally confiscate tens of thousands of dollars for the county without charges, according to two federal lawsuits.
The Associated Press reports that the sheriff insists that the I-80 drug stops were legal. In a sheriff's open house meeting on Tuesday, Kilgore said..."What I'm hearing on the street is that we stop you and ask you for your license, registration and your insurance, and how much money do you have? That simply is not how it is ever done."
However, some claim otherwise and two men have now filed federal lawsuits against the sheriff alleging that the I-80 drug stops were indeed illegal. FOX News reports that the men claim the deputies seized tens of thousand of dollars from them for no reason at all.
The two men, who were traveling alone through the desert of Nevada in two separate incidents last year, gave remarkably similar versions of being stopped by the same police officer from Humboldt County, near the town of Winnemucca, 265 kilometers east of Reno.
Neither of the so-called I-80 drug stops resulted in arrests or drug discovery, but in one case the police seized a briefcase containing $50,000. In the other instance, police seized $13,800 in cash and a gun, according to the two lawsuits.
"It's like Jesse James or Black Bart," John Ohlson, a Reno lawyer representing one of the men, expressed.
The two said the officer stated that he would let them go with their vehicles only if they handed over the money.
The lawsuits allege that the confiscation of money is part of a practice of stopping motorists for speeding as a pretext to check if they carry drugs, which is unconstitutional. They argue that police chief Ed Kilgore, policeman Lee Dove and Humboldt County prosecutors all support the practice.
Regarding the I-80 drug stops, attorney Jeff Dickerson, who is representing one of the men in the lawsuit, said....“It’s pretty scary to be out in the middle of nowhere on the side of the road and be told all your stuff is going to be taken away.”
Sgt. Chris Aker of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office gave a statement in an attempt to explain the reason for the I-80 drug stops and he said...."We're trying to combat crime in our own little way in the war on drugs," he said. "We're not just talking about people driving to buy medical marijuana. These are drug traffickers with guns who may be staying in our hotels."
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