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State of Alabama v. Victor Marquez

Case Number


Migrant farmworker Victor Marquez was traveling to his hometown in Querétero, Mexico, to pay for his new home, only to have his life savings seized by police who alleged it was drug money.

During the May 5, 2008, traffic stop in Loxley, Ala., a police officer confiscated more than $19,000 from Marquez even though he earned a majority of the money by working the bean harvest in south Florida. There was no evidence that the money was earned through illegal activities, and Marquez was not charged. The Southern Poverty Law Center took legal action seeking the return of the money.

The SPLC's legal response asserted that the state could not prove the money was connected to drug activity. It also contended that the confiscation was a violation of the United States and Alabama constitutions.

An Alabama circuit judge dismissed the case and ordered the money returned to Marquez after the state refused to provide documents and information requested by SPLC lawyers representing Marquez.