FBI Seized $86 Million From 700 Safe Deposit Boxes

FBI Seized $86 Million From 700 Safe Deposit Boxes

FBI Seized $86 Million From 700 Safe Deposit Boxes

October 20, 2022 3382 view(s)

Imagine you keep your family heirlooms, cash, precious metals, jewelry, and essential documents in a safe deposit box. Now imagine the government decided to take all of it because they said there was a chance you committed an unknown crime. This scenario is precisely what happened to 700 safe deposit box holders in Beverly Hills. The FBI opened more than 1,400 safe deposit boxes and seized any box with contents greater than $5,000 worth of cash, precious metals or jewelry at a private safe deposit box company in Beverly Hills. 

The warrant application did not include the permanent seizure of the property. Instead, the warrant was a generic search for evidence of a crime because the business owner was charged with money laundering. The government also claimed the company allowed drug dealers to store drugs and guns and helped drug dealers launder their money. The indictment against the company held three counts of conspiracy: to launder money, distribute narcotics, and structure cash transactions to dodge detection. The presumption was that hundreds of unknown boxes would be tied to unknown crimes. 

The FBI did not know the identity of the box owner. If the box contained more than $5,000, the FBI seized it. If the cash looked like it had some connection to the drug trade, like being in a Ziploc bag, the FBI seized it. Agents went through every box without a specific warrant on any person or any specific crime. The FBI took pictures of personal and sensitive documents like pre-nuptial agreements, lists of passwords, wills, and bank statements. Court documents reveal that an urn containing cremated human remains was found in one box. The FBI believes 369 of the around 700 boxes should become the permanent property of the Department of Justice because of unspecified criminal activity. More than 400 box holders have filed a class action lawsuit against the FBI to get their cash and belongings back. 

What if you stored your wealth there? What if you had no idea what bad things the owner was doing, and the government decided you were a criminal simply because you stored your possessions there? This was the argument of the government. The judge asked the FBI about the 4th amendment right to avoid unreasonable search and seizures. The affidavit author argued, "it would be irrational for anyone who wasn't a lawbreaker to entrust the store with assets that a bank could better safeguard. Only those who wish to hide their wealth from the DEA, IRS, or creditors would rent a box anonymously.” As ridiculous as it sounds, it convinced the judge. The government’s supporting evidence was also very flimsy, like some cars with out-of-state license plates visited the business.  

How would you respond if the FBI confiscated your life savings because someone had out-of-state plates? Joseph Ruiz had to go to court to get his savings back. Ruiz was an out-of-work food worker. He had his life savings of $57,000 in the box. The FBI took all of it. Ruiz wrote in his sworn statement he was living off the money and desperately needed it back. A U.S. District judge sided with Ruiz saying the government had violated his rights and must return the money immediately. It is unclear if Ruiz still needs to receive his money.


What Does This Have to Do With Gold?


It is hard to write an article like this and not interject my politics about government overreach and the scary social changes we are watching. It is hard to believe the FBI would seize $86 million of personal property from unknown Americans' safe deposit boxes. It is almost like watching a dystopian movie about the most extraordinary country becoming something else. It is like watching Luke Skywalker deciding he would rather be Darth Vader. The story should not go that way.

Unfortunately, it happened. It sounds like something one would expect to happen in Iran or China, but never in the U.S.A., where the Constitution forbids unreasonable search and seizure. It is also hard to believe the FBI would blindly accuse 1,400 unknown people of non-specific criminal activity because the business owner was engaged in illegal activities. This also happened. 

Assuming someone is a criminal because the business owner is a criminal is like saying everyone who goes to a mob-owned restaurant is a mob member. I am not an expert on the Mob and live in the suburbs of Austin, where the closest thing to the Mob is a group of dog-walking soccer moms who run the HOA (which honestly may be worse than Mob). However, despite my limited exposure to the Mob, I would assume there isn’t a sign on the restaurant door that says, “Mob members only” or “This restaurant is proudly owned and operated by Big Tony. Forget about it.” There probably wasn’t a sign on the private safe deposit box company either.

There are many reasonable explanations other than the government’s assertion only lawbreakers would rent a box anonymously. Here is the truth. Just because someone prefers privacy does not mean they are a criminal. I have been investing in precious metals for years, but I don’t tell my neighbors or put a sign on my front door. Does that make me a criminal? I have wealth hidden in different places, but it is all places I can easily access. None of those places are controlled by someone else's key, like a safe deposit box. 

The sad events in Beverly Hills remind us of an uncomfortable truth. The government was able to come and steal the wealth of 700 people because one person did terrible stuff. If you can't hold it, you don't own it. A safe deposit box is a separation between you and your wealth. How would you respond if the government came after your safe deposit box and took your life savings? Would you be okay, or would you be like Joseph Ruiz, who could not feed himself without a lengthy court drama?

What if they came to steal your retirement accounts, businesses, and income? Wait. They already do that through taxes, reckless spending, and inflation. It may be time to take some of your chips off the table and put them where the government can't see them. It doesn't make you a criminal to protect your family.

Some people may think gold ownership invites confiscation, so it is better to stay in dollars. First, where would you keep those dollars? Would you keep them in the bank for the new IRS software to tell you how much more tax you should be paying? Second, if the government is trying to confiscate gold, we have much bigger problems than the government becoming home invaders. Society has completely broken down. I don't fear confiscation. It is unlikely the government would try to confiscate gold here in Texas. Would you want to knock on Texas doors demanding personal property? Good luck with that. Some Texas-style self-reliance may be what your portfolio needs. If you want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, you may need to stand up to those that would take it. If you hold the gold at your house, the government must go through you to get to your wealth. The only people that will know you have gold will be the people you tell. Buying gold at the U.S. Gold Bureau is a private transaction. 

Why are you still procrastinating protecting yourself? Call the U.S. Gold Bureau Today for your Free Consultation.



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About the Author: Ryan Watkins


Ryan is proud to be an Army veteran. After honorably serving his country, he studied finance, marketing, and kinesiology and graduated Cum Laude. Sharing a professional, practical, well-rounded investment perspective is his primary objective. Ryan invests in many different assets but admits he likes tangible assets best. His sincere passion is educating people and helping them make the most informed choices.