VALERIE FOWLER CUSTOMS OFFICIALS FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF DRUGS OR DRUG MONEY. THEY KEPT THE PLANE ANYWAY… BRANCH DAVIDIAN: WHO JUDGES? Pg. 9 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES DECEMBER 24, 1993 $1.75 AIRJACKED BY THE UNITED STATES CUSTOMS SERVICE BY PETER CASSIDY IM SPURLOCK’S simple faith in the Constitution momentarily blinded him in January of 1992, when a client whose plane had been snatched by U.S. Customs called Spurlock’s Fort Worth office. “Joe, we have a Constitution here which pretty well guarantees if you’ve done nothing wrong, the government can’t touch you,” Spurlock told plane broker Jose Melo, a former racecar driver from Brazil. Spurlock explained that the Bill of Rights was drawn to protect against abuses by the government. “If you guys are involved in drugs, if they bring charges, you’re on your own,” Spurlock said. “If not, you should get your airplane back. … Joe, this kind of stuff happens in your countrynot ours.” Customs agents with a warrant to search for drug money had searched the Learjet 24 yet finding no evidence of drugs or money, they decided to keep the plane anyway. Spurlock, a 50-year-old conservative Republican, grew up believing the United States was the champion of freedom and had saved the world from fascist domination. In his America, a Musak salesman from Jacksonville, Florida, could take up stakes, move to Texas and start his own business selling airplanes, jockeying the most advanced air technology around the world. So Spurlock believed the plane would be returned if Customs brought no charges. Melo called back a week later and clued Spurlock in on America’s constitutional guarantees. The attorney Melo’ s client had hired concluded that Customs could take the plane under a law called “civil forfeiture”without bringing any formal charges. The warrant Continued on page 5 ,orvitorriltorleor.golkato-owno.a.
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