(CNN) – A Texas sheriff is beneath investigation for allegedly seizing cash from undocumented immigrants throughout site visitors stops.
Last month, the Texas Rangers and the Texas lawyer normal’s workplace carried out search warrants as a part of an ongoing investigation into Real County Sheriff Nathan Johnson, in response to the press secretary for the Texas Department of Public Safety. , Ericka Miller. Real County is about 100 miles from the US-Mexico border.
The courtroom orders, obtained by the Texas Tribune, embody particulars of site visitors factors the place cash was stolen from undocumented immigrants. Computers and digital storage and digital communication gadgets are among the many gadgets listed for seizure beneath the warrant, in response to data initially reported by the Texas Tribune.
Johnson has not been charged. The Texas lawyer normal’s workplace didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Johnson, who has served as sheriff since 2017, acknowledged the investigation in a December Facebook submit, saying: “We do not actually know who or what triggered the investigation by the Ranger Service and the Attorney General’s Office, however neither I nor my brokers we now have been arrested and can proceed to serve faithfully as your Sheriff’s Office day after day. “
Johnson couldn’t be reached for remark.
Immigration has been a politically contentious concern in Texas, the place Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has repeatedly argued with the Biden administration over his dealing with of the US-Mexico border.
Law enforcement businesses can seize money and property if they’re believed to be linked to felony exercise, however the proof ought to affirm this on the time of seizure, in response to Erin Thorn Vela, a senior lawyer for the Texas Civil Rights Project.
“Being undocumented and having money in your possession is not a crime,” stated Thorn Vela.
At a May 2021 site visitors cease, for instance, Johnson ordered his brokers to grab a 2008 Toyota Tundra pickup and cash from undocumented immigrants, in response to the courtroom order.
“Sheriff Nathan Johnson acknowledges that the seized currency will be filed as abandoned cash and deposited in the Royal County General Fund after a disposition order is obtained,” the order reads. Johnson stated it’ll try to establish the automobile’s registered house owners and notify them to say it inside 30 days, after which will probably be thought-about deserted, in response to the courtroom order.
The warrants, obtained by the Tribune, additionally cite a site visitors cease in October the place $ 2,742 was seized from undocumented immigrants, one in all whom was arrested and two others turned over to the US Border Patrol. report of a suspicious automobile within the space and with out insurance coverage, says the warrant.
Investigating agent Ricardo Guajardo interviewed Johnson final November in regards to the cash seized in October and Johnson claimed that “the money and the vehicles are kept as evidence for traffic offenses.”
Guajardo concluded, in response to the data: “I believe that Nathan Todd Johnson is committing serious crimes of theft by a public servant, abuse of official capacity and other possible criminal offenses.”