Armored car firm files suit against law enforcement, alleging marijuana cash theft

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(This story has been corrected to reflect that Empyreal filed only one lawsuit, not two, and included a request for a temporary restraining order.)

An armored car and fintech company filed a lawsuit against the federal government and multiple law enforcement agencies alleging that it has been unlawfully targeted by police over the past year and is the victim of “highway robbery.”

Denver-based Empyreal Logistics – which does business in 28 states and acts as a cash courier between many marijuana businesses and their banks as well as for mainstream industries – claims in the lawsuit filed on Jan. 14 that its constitutional rights have been violated.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

In the suit, the company alleges that law enforcement officials conspired to seize cash from its vehicles through “pretextual stops of Empyreal’s armored vehicles” because they knew Empyreal was transporting cash proceeds from marijuana businesses.

Empyreal claims in the suit that officials used civil forfeiture laws to confiscate more than $1 million from its armored vehicles, despite no company employees being charged with a crime.

The lawsuit also contained a request for a temporary restraining order against all defendants.

The defendants in the suit are:

  • The U.S. federal government.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice.
  • The FBI.
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration.
  • The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office in California.
  • The heads of all of those agencies.

The suit states that Empyreal’s vehicles have been stopped by police five times since May 2021 and three times in the past two months in San Bernardino County.

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An Empyreal driver was stopped in October in Kansas while transporting cash from a Missouri medical marijuana dispensary to a financial institution in Colorado.

The suit requests a ruling voiding the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s searches and seizures and a court order preventing all law enforcement agencies from seizing cannabis cash from Empyreal vehicles.

John Schroyer can be reached at john.schroyer@mjbizdaily.com.