In this project, reporters from the Texas Tribune investigate how local agencies in Texas use seized property to fund their activities.
Because only one county has put asset forfeiture cases online, the reporting team has visited counties in the state to dig through courthouse files to find out what kind of property government agencies are seizing from people, how many forfeitures don't result in an arrest or conviction, and what they’re doing with the money when they don’t return property. In addition to county and state agencies, they also investigated asset forfeitures by federal agencies, particularly at the Texas-Mexico border and in the state’s international airports.
The team also explores the complicated politics that allows abuses to happen. Both liberals and conservatives in the state legislature have railed against asset forfeiture abuses and tried to enact reforms, only to see their bills die. Which Texas politicians are protecting the status quo, and what outside forces are applying political pressure on them?