Drug dealer learns harsh lesson from state Supreme Court

 December 1, 2023

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law but the Washington bureaucracy essentially has chosen to ignore the multiple states that have made it legal within their borders, for medicinal or recreational uses.

But that doesn't make those who make money on drugs in those states where it is legally exempt from the laws in states where it remains against the law.

As one drug dealer found out – in a very harsh way – from the Wyoming state Supreme Court.

According to the Cowboy State Daily, that court has ruled that the state can seize cash from out-of-state travelers who are carrying money from drug deals – even if those deals were legal in the state where the money was made.

Because those deals remain illegal in Wyoming.

"Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Keith Kautz penned a Thursday opinion on behalf of the high court, saying that the state can keep $75,000 found in possession of a man who was reportedly transporting the cash and marijuana as he passed through from Illinois to California. The state can keep that money because it was linked to drug transactions that would be illegal if committed in Wyoming," the report confirmed.

Wyoming Attorney General Bridget Hill had gone to the high court after a lower court ruling said the state wasn't allowed to keep the money, taken from an Illinois man traveling through the state.

Hill pointed out that lawmakers in the state "specifically authorized her office to seize money tied to acts that violate the state’s drug laws.," the report said.

She told the publication that "appears to show the Wyoming Legislature’s policy determination that they would like me and my office to diligently pursue these civil matters. The court’s decision today affirms that we did so in accordance with the law."

She said the presumed purpose of the law is to deter drug trafficking.

The case began in 2020 when a highway patrol officer stopped a rented Cadillac Escalade going 84 mph in a 75 zone on Interstate 80.

The trooper, when driver Lorenzo Gallaga rolled down his window, smelled raw cannabis in the vehicle.

A search resulted in "marijuana joints, THC cartridges, concentrated THC, rolling papers and a suitcase containing rubber band-tied clumps of $100 bills, plus a business ledger listing dollar amounts and cannabis strains," the report said.

A jury acquitted him of drug possession in a criminal court, as the driver said he had medical cannabis licenses in California and Illinois.

But state officials seized the $75,000 in a civil proceeding.

The report outlined how Gallaga gave "conflicting accounts" of where the money came from and why he had it, but an investigation showed his tax statements didn't support his lawful possession of that amount of cash.

"He said he was going to use the $75,000 to buy a legal marijuana garden in Illinois, which law enforcement agents found improbable since he was headed to California," the report noted.

Wyoming's law allows the state to seize money "that's being furnished in exchange for a drug that’s illegal in Wyoming."

The court found, "Mr. Gallaga committed an overt act in furtherance of the drug conspiracy by driving through Wyoming with the currency."

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