Texas resident Gerardo Serrano never expected a routine trip to Mexico to visit his cousin would lead to a two-year-long fight to get his truck back.
Serrano was crossing the border in Eagle Pass, Texas when U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents found five .380 caliber rounds in his glovebox which they hilariously claimed constituted “munitions of war.” (It bears mentioning that as far as munitions go, .380 ACP is one of the least powerful handgun rounds commercially available) Despite having a concealed carry permit and offering to leave the cartridges, which he said was an oversight, behind, CBP decided to seize his truck: a 2014 Ford F-150.
Although charges have never been brought against Serrano, Customs and Border Patrol still have his truck – two years later.
Serrano, who is now working with the Institute for Justice in a federal lawsuit, said ,”I didn’t think that this could happen in America. I thought it was only countries like Cuba or Venezuela that would treat their citizens this way. It felt like they were thugs with badges.”
After the seizure, Serrano was presented two options: fight for the truck through an administrative process or go to court and test his luck. He decided to test his luck.
In order to move forward with the court proceeding, CBP required Serrano to send a check that equaled ten percent of the truck’s value. He sent a $3,800 check yet, nearly two years later, the Texan still has not had a court date set.
“If the government arrested Gerardo to pursue criminal charges, it would have had to bring him before a judge without unnecessary delay – generally within 48 hours. But because the government took Gerardo’s property instead, it claims it can keep his truck for years without any kind of hearing,” reads a press release from IJ.
Serrano says he wants his truck back, but is doing this for his children and, “the thousands of other Americans who should never have to go through what I’ve gone through.”
IJ filed the suit saying that property owners have a constitutional right to a speedy hearing after a seizure.
Photo: Institute for Justice