An alleged methamphetamine dealer may have his comic book collection seized by the US government.
But this isn’t just a case of the legal system taking away a couple of issues in the style of a disappointed parent disciplining a troublesome youth. Instead it’s a proposed seizure of around $500,000 in what prosecutors call criminal assets.
Confused? Well, detectives first suspected something odd was afoot when they interviewed a witness who worked as a distributor in Aaron Castro’s drug network. The witness claimed “Aaron began to struggle with money because he would spend his drug money on comic books. [She] would meet Aaron at comic book stores to give him the drug money and had seen Aaron buy a box of comic books.”
When officers arrested Castro in 2009, alongside his brother, it appeared that if this were the case he had a problem almost as serious as some of his customers: police seized around 100 boxes stuffed with high-value comics, the most expensive of which was worth $3,500.
But prosecutors argue that Castro wasn’t the victim of those hard-to-resist cliffhangers at the end of an issue. They instead believe that rare comic books was a particularly creative way to launder the cash collected from drug customers.
Given how many comics were seized, that leaves the question of whether Castro simply hadn’t got round to the part of laundering where you bring in the clean money. His operation was so big that half a million bucks was just what he had “in the wash” at the time, or that he truly had become addicted to the collecting.
Either way, even though Castro doesn’t actually face trial until May, officials want to get their hands on the cash. They’ve now filed for the forfeiture of no fewer than 18,753 comics.