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Build a Secret Compartment, Go To Jail

timothy posted about a year ago | from the postcard-vs.-envelope dept.

Crime 1111

KindMind writes "Alfred Anaya was a custom stereo installer who branched out to making secret compartments for valuables, who the DEA sent to prison as a co-conspirator when a drug dealer used his creation to smuggle drugs. But Wired points out the bigger question: 'The challenge for anyone who creates technology is to guess when they should turn their back on paying customers. Take a manufacturer of robot kits for hobbyists. If someone uses those robots to patrol a smuggling route or help protect a meth lab, how will prosecutors determine whether the company acted criminally?'"

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in my opinion (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336341)

It serves the guy right for not using his right to legal bribery of elected officials using campaign contributions and lobbying like gun manufacturers and other scum do.

Re:in my opinion (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336465)

liberal faggotland (reddit), is that way ---> go be mad somewhere else, it's not our fault the doctor wasn't available for your obama endorsed, government funded sex change today...

Gun Makers (2, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#43336381)

To me, law enforcement would have a leg to stand on if they were also pushing hard for the right to arrest the management of gun and ammunition manufacturers - Those agents-of-death are way more culpable of abetting in the murder of children than some guy making secret compartments.

abetting in the murder of children? (2, Funny)

drainbramage (588291) | about a year ago | (#43336431)

Don't you mean the unions?
Union workers make the products that kill, maim or injure millions:
Cars, pools, trampolines, cigarettes, movies, spoons, etc..,

Re:abetting in the murder of children? (-1, Flamebait)

fredrated (639554) | about a year ago | (#43336609)

You fucking bastard, go back to hell where you were spawned.

Re:abetting in the murder of children? (2)

SharpFang (651121) | about a year ago | (#43336657)

Only acting on behalf of their employers. No more guilty than enforcers of mafia boss.

Re:abetting in the murder of children? (1)

BeansBaxter (918704) | about a year ago | (#43336701)

Best comment of the day....

Re:Gun Makers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336437)

Yeah! The law should apply to stuff i don't use or agree with and not equally! Hypocrisy is ok as long as you agree with me!!

Re:Gun Makers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336483)

The knee you just jerked up is preventing you from seeing that s/he agrees with your sans-sarcasm point.

Re:Gun Makers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336451)

Yep, Jack McCoy lost that case, and if America's number one ace prosecutor can't get that past the courts, why should some no-name schlub in...oh wait,it's KKKommunist Kalifornia, never mind.

They'd probably arrest the gun and ammunition manufacturers too.

Re:Gun Makers (2, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#43336479)

False equivalency. *Total* false equivalency.

There is a big difference between prosecuting a make of a Claw Hammer because it was used in a murder and prosecuting a make of a gun. A gun is for killing or maiming people and is not built for killing people. A claw hammer is built for driving nails and not built for killing people.

I don't think gun makers should be prosecuted either as I think the important thing is the killer's intent.

This case is even worse than the gun case, though. If a safe is bought and used to hide someone's stash does that make the safe maker liable? I would say hell no. I would say the case of secret compartments is more dubious, but there are tons of things it could be used legally for and I don't think the manufacturer of that hiding place has anything to do with the issue.

Re:Gun Makers (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336573)

False equivalency. *Total* false equivalency.

There is a big difference between prosecuting a make of a Claw Hammer because it was used in a murder and prosecuting a make of a gun. A gun is for killing or maiming people and is not built for killing people. A claw hammer is built for driving nails and not built for killing people.

I don't think gun makers should be prosecuted either as I think the important thing is the killer's intent.

This case is even worse than the gun case, though. If a safe is bought and used to hide someone's stash does that make the safe maker liable? I would say hell no. I would say the case of secret compartments is more dubious, but there are tons of things it could be used legally for and I don't think the manufacturer of that hiding place has anything to do with the issue.

Yes in some instances gun makers and safe makers could be liable. If, in the gun instance, it can be proven the sold or otherwise provided a gun knowing or any person can "reasonably" assume that the gun would be used to commit a crime. This case isn't about he made secret compartments so he went to jail, it is about the government saying he knew (or again, he reasonably should have known) that his compartments were being used for transoporting illegal goods. The crux of this case is that he helped a guy open a jammed compartment, which he realized was full of money. This means he should have reasonably known that his compartmemts were being used for house and smuggle illegal goods. Hence, the arrest and conviction.

Read the article, get to know your country/state/municipalities laws.

Re:Gun Makers (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43336591)

Since when is money an illegal good?

He knew they were moving large amount of money. That is it.

Right now I have a couple grand in my wallet, am I suddenly some sort of criminal?

My brother repaid a loan that I made him. I will either deposit this money or put it in my safe. If I put it in my safe am I suddenly some sort of drug lord?

Re:Gun Makers (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43336703)

Since when is money an illegal good?

Having $800K in cash you can't account for is going to get you into the territory of seizure laws, unless you can account for where you got it (and the onus is on you to prove that).

And, sadly, once he saw it, and reasonably knew what the second one was likely to be used for .. he was screwed. Because either he said nothing and became complicit, or he turned in some shady people who might not be understanding of that.

If he'd never seen what was inside, and never agreed to make another one, he'd probably have been shielded with "your honor, I have no idea what he kept in there".

But once he asked if there was anything he needed to worry about, and saw that much cash, and then made another one for them ... well, I feel bad for the guy.

If I put it in my safe am I suddenly some sort of drug lord?

Depending on how much cash, if you were found with it you might need to prove it's legally obtained. Trying to deposit $10K or more (or whatever it is) into the bank in cash is going to get flagged as well.

Re:Gun Makers (3, Insightful)

BeansBaxter (918704) | about a year ago | (#43336713)

Reading the article the real crime was refusing to be a DEA pawn.

Re:Gun Makers (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43336577)

A gun is for killing and maiming people?
Where do you buy your guns? Mine are for hunting and sport shooting.

Re:Gun Makers (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about a year ago | (#43336671)

False equivalency. *Total* false equivalency.

There is a big difference between prosecuting a make of a Claw Hammer because it was used in a murder and prosecuting a make of a gun. A gun is for killing or maiming people and is not built for killing people. A claw hammer is built for driving nails and not built for killing people.

I don't think gun makers should be prosecuted either as I think the important thing is the killer's intent.

This case is even worse than the gun case, though. If a safe is bought and used to hide someone's stash does that make the safe maker liable? I would say hell no. I would say the case of secret compartments is more dubious, but there are tons of things it could be used legally for and I don't think the manufacturer of that hiding place has anything to do with the issue.

Is their a difference between a kitchen knife manufacturer or a survival knife manufacturer? What about a maker of machetes?

Your rules are ambiguous. Manufacturers should not be held liable without explicitly knowing that their creation will be used illegally.

If it was proven the compartments were made for certain sized bricks of money, and the maker knew that was why they needed to be that size.

Re:Gun Makers (1)

SharpFang (651121) | about a year ago | (#43336673)

These compartments were for transporting jewelry and valuables, not for smuggling drugs.

Re:Gun Makers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336683)

A gun is for killing or maiming people and is not built for killing people.

I have no idea what you are trying to say here, so I'll just say this in reply.

I had no idea that deer, moose, wild boar, etc, were all considered "people" now. Nor was I aware that paper targets, tin cans, glass bottles, etc, were also considered "people". Now sure, the person breaking into my home to do me harm, that is a person. But how is that relevant? A gun is just a tool, nothing more, nothing less. If you wish to use a gun for just one of the purposes that it can be used for, that is your choice, but is ultimately irrelevant to the discussion.

And if you're one of those people who claim that people who use guns for purposes other than killing other people are using their guns "improperly", well, quite bluntly, you are not a person who can be reasoned with, as you've already made up your mind, everything else be damned.

Re:Gun Makers (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about a year ago | (#43336735)

it's called a typographical error.

It's built for killing and maiming people, dogs, mooses, squirrels, and soda cans.

Better? :)

Re:Gun Makers (0, Flamebait)

Titan1080 (1328519) | about a year ago | (#43336491)

In other news, my AR-15 will be arriving sometime later this week. Can't wait to become an 'agent of death'.

Re:Gun Makers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336513)

Don't create arbitrary, ambigous and unethical laws in the first place?

Re:Gun Makers (2)

OS24Ever (245667) | about a year ago | (#43336619)

Uhm, no.

What happened in this article would be the equivalent of a person walking up to a gun shop and saying 'Hi, I need to buy a gun that shoots people really fast, and a ton of bullets because I'm going to kill some people' and the guy selling it to him.

TFA is quite specific that he discovered what they were using the traps for, and went ahead and installed one into a co-hort of the first drug dealer who broke his because he stuffed it with $800K in cash. after he fixed it, he charged them to fix it, and then agreed to install one in the other guys truck.

Re:Gun Makers (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year ago | (#43336621)

Don't forget to arrest the car manufacturers. After all, most drugs are transported by cars/vans/trucks.

let me say: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336385)

you put your weed in there.

The Answer To This Nonsense... (5, Insightful)

rally2xs (1093023) | about a year ago | (#43336387)

... is to legalize absolutely all the drugs, and put the DEA, et. al., out of business. The insane drug war is just another excuse to violate citizen's rights, plus it provides obscene amounts of money to all the wrong sorts of people. And, reportedly, Mexico has lost 70,000 of its citizens since 2007 to drug war violence. Is the USA keeping drugs illegal really worth 70,000 human lives? I don't think so.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (5, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43336425)

I'm in favor of partial legalization and regulation. Smoking kills 300k a year. Something like widespread meth use could come in 10x, 20x that. The reason drugs can get banned is because they are so incredibly devastating to individuals to families and to communities when their use becomes common. Pretending they are harmless undermines other points.

The question is whether the benefits of criminalization, the avoidance of widespread use, can be achieved without criminalization.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (5, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | about a year ago | (#43336453)

You don't combat drug (ab)use by prohibition, you use education.

And anyway the side effect of prohibition will do far more harm to society then any drug can.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336581)

45 million people smoke cigarettes. Maybe around 1 million use meth. The difference is prohibition. Companies aren't allowed to sell meth a yard from where you buy candy or soda. I am fairly ambivalent about the legalization of marijuana, but when libertarians go on about how we should legalize crack I think is because they are smoking it.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43336585)

You don't combat drug (ab)use by prohibition, you use education.

And actually trying to fix some of the social problems associated with drugs like poverty and lack of jobs.

But nobody has any interest in doing that. They'd rather have a large, for profit prison industry and sweep it all under the rug.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (3, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43336607)

The people I know that do drugs have jobs and money. Drugs aren't cheap. I bet the majority of drug use is of that type. Friday-Sunday and at parties.

I have seen crackheads and meth addicts, but these seem like more the outlier than the occasional toker or party coke user.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336617)

I'll agree with you there. As long as people agree that you don't fix gun violence by banning guns since the argument is the same.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336705)

You don't combat drug (ab)use by prohibition, you use education.

And anyway the side effect of prohibition will do far more harm to society then any drug can.

Now mr Crack fiend, who tried it once at a friends house and had no self control, you stop smoking so much crack! Don't you know that it is wack? Also, please give me my iphone back. That is not for selling for crack money, it is for making phone calls.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (5, Informative)

Binestar (28861) | about a year ago | (#43336461)

Look up drug legalization and Portugal.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (4, Funny)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about a year ago | (#43336545)

Separately, or together?

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (1)

IT.luddite (1633703) | about a year ago | (#43336611)

Separately, or together?

ok, I know /. and why bother to read the article. But really you should read (ok skim) the comment. The comment said to look up x and y. It wasn't NAND, OR, or anything else. Please turn in your geek card at the door!

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#43336487)

the avoidance of widespread use

You think that anybody who wants to take drugs isn't already taking them?

Taking away the profits would mean less pushers hanging around schoolyards and visiting teenage parties with "free samples".

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336549)

All evidence shows that Drug Education and rehab does way more good than Drug Prohibition.
Drives the pushers out of business. The people who want the drugs are going to get them no matter what, but you've removed the profit motive to heavily push the drug.
Spend the money saved on education and rehab for those who want help. Right now too few seek help because they fear prosecution.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (0)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#43336729)

Thats not a very reasonable analasys of the situation. Why would meth use come in so high? Do you want to use meth? Are you going to run out and start shooting heroin?

Seriously, do you actually think the numbers will increase that much? How about this scenario.... price of drugs comes down, people don't need to buy pure meth anymore, addicts can afford to not inject it.... other, less potent drugs (which have been pushed off the market) re-enter, and many of the people attracted to stims.... switch to those.

Heroin? Why? When opium is available, and there is no pressure on dealers to make the highest profit off the lowest volume, do you really think heroin addicts wouldn't turn to opium in droves? Wouldn't pick safer, less potent drugs and forms of drugs?

> The reason drugs can get banned is because they are so incredibly devastating to individuals to
> families and to communities when their use becomes common. Pretending they are harmless
> undermines other points.

All of which is made WORST, not better by prohibition. It doesn't even lower addiction rates. Rates have not changed over time, and problems just get worst. We see the same problems with alcohol and even non-drug related issues. Yet, drugs are somehow "special". Its BS is what it is....drugs can get banned because they make a convinenet scapegoat and present an easy (if impossible to achieve and highly ineffective) solution.... which makes for good talking points and easy campaign promises.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (3, Interesting)

Zemran (3101) | about a year ago | (#43336563)

but he had not seen any drugs, only money. Should we legalise money? I think that the US has the craziest legal system in the world. The country that introduced the concept that carrying money to another country is a crime (called money laundering), given that I work in various countries for good money I want to be allowed to carry my legally earned money home with me but if I carry more than a trivial amount I am labelled a criminal...

It is time that money was legalised.

Re:The Answer To This Nonsense... (2)

Coreigh (185150) | about a year ago | (#43336589)

No it isn't, but you have conveniently missed part of the equation. How many human lives has uncontrolled drug use claimed?

I completely agree that there are a number of recreational drugs that should have no more control and oversight than cigarettes and alcohol (which are also deadly), but some should. I could care less if someone I know and care about smokes marijuana, but I feel much differently about methamphetamines. I may be wrong but doesn't it seem likely that if the less harmful drugs were more available then the more harmful ones would be less prevalent?

War on drugs (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336401)

Who in the hell thought the 'War on Drugs' was rational? That's the problem right there. Drug use is not a black or white situation. Smoking pot is one thing. Meth addicts with children in the home is another. But like anything else controversial, once politics gets involved you can throw rationality right out the window! Being casualties of war is a given, you have to ask yourself if they're worth preserving a healthy community.

This doesn't make sense! (5, Insightful)

sudden.zero (981475) | about a year ago | (#43336405)

Under the same premise a car manufacturer should be liable for assisting in a bank robbery because the thieves couldn't have gotten away so quickly without their ingenious device called the automobile! This is just stupid and the judge that made that poor decision should be shot, hanged, and burnt at the stake!

Re:This doesn't make sense! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43336531)

We don't know (okay, *I* don't know) all the specifics of this compartment maker's case. Did he admit to knowing the purpose? I don't know. If he claimed not to know and the buyer claimed not to have told the craftsman the intent and purpose, then I agree, the case should not have been pursued.

Re:This doesn't make sense! (4, Informative)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year ago | (#43336687)

while repairing a stuck mechanism on one he got it open and found 800 grand inside, he continued to make compartments for this customer.

Re:This doesn't make sense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336625)

"Shot" will suffice. I'm all for revenge, but I'm also all for efficient use of resources. Why spend more time dealing with these asshats than we have to? One shot. Boom. Done. But not before his trial by a jury of his accusers' peers, just like the guy in TFA got.

The criminal "justice" system only works when people believe it works, and that's not really the case anymore. When it gets worse, vigilantes will become commonplace. That's when you know your "justice" system has failed. That's also when psychopaths can become fake vigilantes and wreak havoc. There's a reason we need a proper justice system. The judge and prosecutors in TFA are tearing it down, and to everyone's detriment.

OPs title is wrong, and biased... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336407)

The article (which I read days ago) clearly states that it's not illegal to put those compartments into vehicles. However, it IS illegal IF the person installing knows that they will be used for illegal purposes.

Since he saw the huge amount of cash in the one he repaired, and discussed what the size of a "kilo" would be, etc, he opened the door to getting in trouble.

Re:OPs title is wrong, and biased... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336579)

It's not illegal to haul huge amounts of cash around, and there is no recorded evidence of discussing what size a kilo would be, and the supposed "brick" mentioned to indicate the size...would not have been around his house, which wasn't made of brick.

Re:OPs title is wrong, and biased... (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43336595)

Since when is it illegal to own lots of cash?

Re:OPs title is wrong, and biased... (2)

radio4fan (304271) | about a year ago | (#43336637)

Since he saw the huge amount of cash in the one he repaired, and discussed what the size of a "kilo" would be, etc, he opened the door to getting in trouble.

Then he invited trouble right in the door by talking to the DEA without a lawyer.

Sure, he thought he wasn't breaking the law, but was hardly an expert. Huuuge gamble to make.

Also, getting tried in Kansas with the name Anaya might have been something a decent lawyer could have avoided.

I had no sympathy at all until I saw the sentence. 24 years without parole is madness.

co-conspirator (4, Insightful)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about a year ago | (#43336413)

Does a gun manufacturer or dealer go to jail as co-conspirator when the killer used the gun to kill people?

Re:co-conspirator (2)

sribe (304414) | about a year ago | (#43336505)

Does a gun manufacturer or dealer go to jail as co-conspirator when the killer used the gun to kill people?

The dealer can go to jail if the sale was illegal--in other words, skirted the background check, knew it was a straw purchase, and so on. It's rare because most gun dealers know better, but it does happen occasionally. That would be for breaking the laws I mentioned, now if the gun dealer actually knew that the person to whom he was selling intended to murder, and in fact actually conspired with that person to help him commit the murder, then of course he would treated as a co-conspirator.

The manufacturer could in theory. In the real world it doesn't happen because the manufacturers are far removed from the end user of any particular gun or round, and because they know full well their choice is follow the letter of the law scrupulously or be shut down (at best).

Re:co-conspirator (2)

DustyShadow (691635) | about a year ago | (#43336627)

Very few background check violations are prosecuted. The Obama Administration's stated reason for it is lack of time and manpower. If the Obama Administration currently doesn't have the time or manpower to prosecute those who lie on background check forms, then why do they want more background checks, more paperwork and more forms? It's backdoor gun registration.

Re:co-conspirator (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#43336679)

Yup, of the thousands of NCIC denials that have happened in the past 10 years, less than 100 have been prosecuted.

Re:co-conspirator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336643)

Only if it can be proven that the dealer knew the weapon had a high probability of being used in the commission of a crime.

We have gotten to the point in our society where that which is not specifically allowed is forbidden.

I tend to blame progressives, liberals and democrats for this state of affairs. (hint: look to the most free/least free State study http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/new-york-least-free-state_n_2972080.html)

Regardless: Re-elect no one. Ever.

They created a new problem for themselves... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336415)

He used to work legally, and pay the taxes.

Now he will have problems finding a job, so he will build secret compartments for drug runners for living, not as a side job.

Re:They created a new problem for themselves... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336681)

Actually, he'll be spending an awful lot of time in prison doing nothing.
He used to work legally, and pay taxes.
Now we'll be paying for him to rot in a concrete box.

Re:They created a new problem for themselves... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336685)

Then they just arrest him and put him in jail again. The metric they use is arrests and incarcerations so this is actually good from the DEA viewpoint (i.e. "progress" in the War on Drugs). Everyone else, not so much.

The rules are simple. (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43336417)

If you are a small Mom and Pop operations (Under 5 employees) you are going to jail.
If you are a Small Business (Under 100 Employees) you will get massive fines.
If you are a Medium Business (Under 1000 Employees) you will get a stern talking to
If you are a Large Business (1000+ Employees) you are considered an innovator, any misuse of your product is not your fault.

Re:The rules are simple. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336489)

If you are a Very Large Business (10000+ Employees) you wil be consulted on the draft bill to modify the offending law..

Re:The rules are simple. (5, Insightful)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about a year ago | (#43336543)

Yes, but you forgot:

You are a large bank, the failure of which would cripple the economy. You get a bailout and bonuses for your C level.

Odd arrangements (2)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year ago | (#43336421)

From what I understand, a bartender can get in trouble for overserving someone who then drives drunk and causes mayhem.

Apparently, this guy who installed custom compartments in vehicles got in trouble, despite (apparently) refusing to build them for explicit drug use.

Are convenience stores liable when smokers get cancer? They're selling the carcinogens.

Are firearm and ammunition manufacturers and dealers liable for school shootings? You know those aren't all done with zip guns and reloads.

We have a legal system that seems to be logically inconsistent.

When are gun manufacturers going to jail? (4, Insightful)

mikeraz (12065) | about a year ago | (#43336427)

On the face of it his incarceration is ludicrous. If he specifically created the compartment for drug smuggling and took part of the profits . . . well then I can see some justification.

To answer your question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336441)

Alfred Anaya was an easy target. A large company would have no liability. Else gun and car manufacturers would be getting imprisoned all the time. Alfred Anaya was put in prison because he didn't have the money to defend himself. A prosecuting attorney does not care about guilt or innocence. They only care about how likely they are to win a case and put someone behind bars.

reductio ad absurdum (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#43336443)

What about the company that made the resistors (or other components) in that hobby robot? If not for the resistors, the robot would be impossible.

OTOH, the guy is making secret compartments in cars to store "valuables"- what would he expect his customers to be storing in there if not drugs? I suppose there's always guns...

I think the guy targeted a specific market for his product. Apparently things didn't work out so well for his customer, which will probably put an end to his not-so-secret hidden compartment business.

Re:reductio ad absurdum (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43336539)

Actually traps are pretty common for the rich or those who have to go to bad neighborhoods or even countries.

People keep normal valuables like their wallet, GPS, tablets or laptops in them. The idea is that anything out of sight is out of mind for a crackhead/methuser/dirty cop.

The guy targeted any buyers. The only reason he is going to jail is that he refused to be a snitch so they built a case to punish him for that.

Re:reductio ad absurdum (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about a year ago | (#43336739)

I'm trying to picture guys like Mitt Romney or Donald Trump riding around in limos with traps. I'm also trying to picture either of them driving around in bad neighborhoods and thinking that he'd better put his phone and wallet in a trap just in case someone decides to rob him.

Maybe it's my lack of imagination, but I just don't see it happening.

Re:reductio ad absurdum (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year ago | (#43336559)

Cell phones, jewelry, ipods... there are lots of small valuable items that would be better off out of sight and not easily found if one has a reason to leave them in their car.

Wrong lesson... (5, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#43336445)

I think the lesson of this case has little to do with secret compartments. What mainly happened here is the police wanted him to work for them and he said no, so the built a case to punish him. The trial was a joke, the testimony against him was due to plea deals and some of it was physically impossible to be true, and most of it hinged on building up personal dislike by the jury due to his lifestyle.

He refused to put his life at risk when the police threatened him, and they made good on the threat, even if he was within the law. Being within the law does not matter when they want to get you.

Re:Wrong lesson... (4, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43336517)

This is exactly what happened.
He was told to be a snitch and when he refused they punished him.

Re:Wrong lesson... (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about a year ago | (#43336615)

... He refused to put his life at risk when the police threatened him, and they made good on the threat, even if he was within the law. ...

True, but man, how cool could it have been if he had agreed? He, and his family were already in danger, even if he didn't cooperate with the feds. They were going to set him up with a shop with everything he needed. He could have modded cars for the CIA, and become "Q". If I were him, the first mod would be to put machine guns in my own car.

If you *read* TFA... (1, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#43336477)

...you'll see that not only did he have suspicions, but that those suspicions were validated when he had to repair the mechanism to open the secret compartment, only to find it loaded with cash. And not a little bit of cash; according to the article, the reason the compartment jammed was that it was over-filled with $800,000 in cash. Anaya's reaction, from the article:

Anaya stumbled back from the truck’s cab, livid. “Get it out of here,” he growled at Esteban. “I don’t want to know about this. I don’t want any problems.”

If you participate in something you know to be illegal, that's conspiracy. He's not charged because he built a compartment; any activity that he would have participated in which would contribute...knowingly...to an illegal enterprise would fit the bill here. He's charged because he knew something wrong was going on, it involved him, and he said nothing to the police. If the criminals had somehow needed a hot fudge sundae to commit a criminal act, and he'd provided the ice cream knowing what would happen, the name of this article would be "Make a sundae, go to jail." I don't see the problem here. Furthermore, Anaya had serious concerns about his customer before he even did the work in the first place..."Anaya was unsettled by this request, for he had suspicions about the nature of Esteban’s work."

But guess what? None of that is the REAL thing he's caught for. After all of that...what happens? Esteban...the guy with almost a million dollars in cash hidden in his truck...is asked by Esteban to install a similar compartment in ANOTHER truck. I mean, come on...

A grateful Maldanado then asked Anaya if he could install a trap in the Ridgeline too. The Honda truck already had one, but it was the work of a rank amateur—just a crude hole sawed into the base of the trunk. Maldanado wanted an electronic trap like the F-150’s, and he offered to leave a cash deposit so Anaya could buy the necessary hydraulics.

Anaya, who was deeply in debt to numerous creditors, decided to accept the job. He hadn’t totally forgiven Maldanado for failing to warn him about the money jammed in the trap, but he figured that he was still adhering to the letter of the law. The fact was that he hadn’t seen any drugs, and there had been no discussion of how Maldanado had earned his small fortune.

Yeah, maybe Esteban just had a really lucrative paper route...

Given those circumstances, Anaya assumed that he was immune from legal trouble in connection with his meticulous creations. He was, after all, just an installer.

Right. They want your services so bad because it's not all that important to them. You're not helping with the narcotics trade...nooooo...

Re:If you *read* TFA... (1)

Raven42rac (448205) | about a year ago | (#43336511)

Yeah, maybe Esteban just had a really lucrative paper route...

It's really none of his business unless he explicitly knew he sold drugs for money, some people just have lots of money, that's not a crime in and of itself. And a reasonable person would probably want to safeguard $800,000 in cash, regardless of source.

Re:If you *read* TFA... (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#43336599)

Yeah, maybe Esteban just had a really lucrative paper route...

It's really none of his business unless he explicitly knew he sold drugs for money, some people just have lots of money, that's not a crime in and of itself.
And a reasonable person would probably want to safeguard $800,000 in cash, regardless of source.

How many people with that kind of money have that kind of cash on hand, carry it around in a car, and that car is one clearly chosen to hide the fact that the occupant is wealthy, and those people are not criminals? The slightly-not-right, but not-criminal people who hoard their financial assets do so because they think cash and the banks aren't trustworthy -- they'll have their hoarded "money" in something tangible like gold, stashed somewhere.

If 99% of the time, people displaying the behavior in question are criminals, its not really a safe bet to claim you assumed they weren't. A bartender doesn't have to prove you're drunk to an extent that would stand up in court (like a blood test) to be liable when they don't cut you off. Its the same here. Any reasonable person in that situation would know the odds are the person in question has that money illegally, and the very fact that he was playing the "don't ask, don't tell" card means he knew that was the case.

Re:If you *read* TFA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336747)

And when he saw it, according to the article, he told them to leave. Was he supposed to be psychic and know what was in the compartment prior to opening it?

Re:If you *read* TFA... (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about a year ago | (#43336601)

Agreed. Possessing any quantity of cash is in no way, shape, or form, evidence of criminal activity. The same goes for hot fudge and ice cream.

Re:If you *read* TFA... (1)

Shoten (260439) | about a year ago | (#43336693)

Yeah, maybe Esteban just had a really lucrative paper route...

It's really none of his business unless he explicitly knew he sold drugs for money, some people just have lots of money, that's not a crime in and of itself.
And a reasonable person would probably want to safeguard $800,000 in cash, regardless of source.

Ah, no. Actually not at all true. For one, he had suspicions; that alone is the legal boundary. For another...really? Why would a reasonable person keep $800,000 in cash, in their car? What's reasonable about that? It's nuts to keep that much cash as cash, for one thing; it will lose value daily due to inflation, instead of gain a tiny bit due to interest. It can be stolen. Keep it in your house, and it can burn up as well. Keep it in your car...and the car can be stolen, broken into, damaged/destroyed in a car accident (which are very, very commonplace), or carjacked.

I would point out that for any cash transaction involving more than $10K, you may be called upon to prove that the money was earned legitimately...and if you can't, it can be seized from you. This amount was 80 times that. Most people don't achieve that level of net worth, including all assets (house, car, etc.) in their lifetime; to have that much cash with you, all at the same time, is very much an indication of illegal activity, and that has been borne out in a large number of legal cases by now.

And also, it's not that Anaya was asked to change the oil in the truck; he was asked to build yet another (What, Esteban has another $800,000 to hide? Damn, I gotta get me a paper route!) compartment for the express purpose of concealment, for an individual who was clearly engaged in something suspicious, and who Anaya already believed to be involved in something shady. It really does pass the litmus test for a conspiracy charge and conviction.

Re:If you *read* TFA... (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about a year ago | (#43336721)

And a reasonable person would probably want to safeguard $800,000 in cash, regardless of source.

Reasonable people store $800,000 in cash in a bank, not in a hidden compartment in a truck. He was charged with conspiracy. The legal definition of conspiracy is "An agreement between two or more persons to engage jointly in an unlawful or criminal act, or an act that is innocent in itself but becomes unlawful when done by the combination of actors." He had indications that this money was not obtained legally, and undertook actions to help protect and secretly store that cash. By doing so he became part of the conspiracy to commit drug trafficking/distributing drugs. Best case, he should have refused to do the work and gone to the police instead. Worst case, he should have refused to do the work and then talked with a lawyer, who would probably have told him to go to the police. If you read the article, he operated his business like someone who knew exactly what these compartments were being used for: customers were not allowed to use drug-related terms when talking to him. He did this explicitly to avoid California law, which says it is illegal to make secret compartments for the storage or smuggling of narcotics. This clearly shows he had an idea of what these compartments would be used for. He thought by avoiding these words, he could avoid jail time, because he didn't "know" what they were being used for.

TLDR: If something you're doing is probably involved in assisting the commission of or hiding the products of an illegal act, at the very least talk to a lawyer to assess any criminal liability you might have. But you should probably go to the cops. Otherwise, you will go to jail.

Re:If you *read* TFA... (4, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | about a year ago | (#43336633)

only to find it loaded with cash. And not a little bit of cash; according to the article, the reason the compartment jammed was that it was over-filled with $800,000 in cash

If it's illegal to hold cash, then we all become Cypriots.

Re:If you *read* TFA... (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | about a year ago | (#43336715)

Exactly.

There is a big difference if (someone who is legally allowed to borrow one) a friend borrows a handgun and says he needs a sidearm while hunting and he then kills someone, or a friend borrows a gun after getting fired and hes been ranting and raving about hurting his boss and he kills them.

24 Years, No Parole (5, Informative)

dcollins (135727) | about a year ago | (#43336481)

"The judge agreed with McCracken’s harsh assessment. He sentenced Anaya to 292 months in federal prison—more than 24 years—with no possibility of parole. Curtis Crow and Cesar Bonilla Montiel, the men at the top of the organization, received sentences half that length."

Just to be clear -- the article doesn't reveal the 24-year sentence until almost the very end. Part of the problem is, as usual (see Aaron Swartz) unchecked prosecutors piling on crazy charges to force a plea bargain, and one person who truly believes they didn't do anything wrong, and refuses to take it for principle's sake. End result: epic miscarriage of justice.

His mistake (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year ago | (#43336495)

His mistake was in installing the second "trap" in the other vehicle. He could have legitimately claimed that he agreed to fix the first one out of a sense of responsibility for his workmanship AND fear that the guy would come after him for failing to do so. However, agreeing to the second one made it a clear money grab and it violated the California law. He knew the only way that the guy got that much money was through the drug trade. He should have told the guy that he had compromised his business by showing up with all that money in the "trap" and exposed him to legal liability beyond what he had agreed to.
I understand why he thought he was skirting the law, but he knew he was skirting the law. Once it went beyond merely knowing in an academic fashion that some of his customers were using his installations in an illegal fashion to having seen evidence (even though that evidence was not by itself enough to convict the customer) that a particular customer was doing so he had crossed the line. He crossed the line of plausible deniability.

Burying your head in the sand ... (1)

stevez67 (2374822) | about a year ago | (#43336499)

... is never a way of avoiding obvious legal trouble in business. The installer knew they were smuggling huge amounts of cash and should have called the authorities, not make them remove the cash and pretend he never saw it. Basically his arrest was not about building a hidden compartment, it was about abetting money laundering tied to drug trafficking. Abetting money laundering hooked him.

Misleading title, everyone just calm down (1)

Arnold Lee (2883071) | about a year ago | (#43336501)

The title *should* read, make a secret compartment *knowing it will be used for illegal activity* and go to jail. Read the article. He was repairing a compartment for a customer, and when it opened, found it filled with cash. The amount of cash was enough to actually jam the compartment. Then he continued to work on more compartments for the same customer, turning a blind eye to what any reasonable person would believe was illegal activity. Once caught, he chose to fight the charges rather than plea out, and rolled the dice with the jury. One could argue that the charges and jail time (in excess of 25 years I believe) are ridiculous in comparison to the crime committed - why should the drug dealers get less time than a guy who facilitated their crimes - but don't cry for his "innocence." He was guilty.

Re:Misleading title, everyone just calm down (2)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about a year ago | (#43336665)

Disagree. Some people keep cash, and what better place to keep it than a secret compartment. Just because you don't keep your money in a bank doesn't mean you're a criminal. Unless he had specific knowledge of his customer's criminal activity, just finding cash doesn't imply anything other than that dude is rich as hell

The context of the case (4, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year ago | (#43336503)

The case hinged on whether Alfred Anaya knew that the compartments were being used to smuggle drugs. In this context, when he was repairing one of the compartments in question he saw that it was full of bundles of cash. The prosecutors argued (and the jury agreed) that this was clear evidence that something illegal was going on, most likely drugs. He could have said no at that point, but he didn't. I'm generally in favor of legalization for most drugs, but this fellow isn't as sympathetic and innocent as the summary makes him out to be.

*sigh* , RTFA it is much more complicated (0)

brunes69 (86786) | about a year ago | (#43336521)

The guy was not just building traps. He knew what they were being used for. That is the difference here.

Building traps for a client = legal.

Building traps for a client when you know they are using them to do illegal activities = illegal.

Re:*sigh* , RTFA it is much more complicated (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336571)

Seeing a bunch of money isn't illegal...

guilty (1)

goertzenator (878548) | about a year ago | (#43336527)

If you RTFA, its pretty obvious Anaya knew he was helping criminals. I don't feel sorry for him at all. If he really wanted to keep a clean business he could have said that he would document all installations and share them with the cops.

We've gotten to the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336529)

where that which isn't specifically allowed is forbidden.

I tend to blame the democrat for this.

Regardless: Re-elect no one. Ever.

Absurd Law (3, Interesting)

b4upoo (166390) | about a year ago | (#43336537)

I myself once machined and built a small safe designed to hide in a vehicle as I frequently transported gold at the time. Unless there was proof that this guy was trying to do something illegal it sounds absolutely insane that he would be punished. The area that I traveled through was known to be quite dangerous and window smashing and grabbing at valuables was common. Matter of fact many gun owners need some sort of safe in their vehicles as there is a plague of people leaving guns under the car seats or between the seats or sometimes just under a newspaper on the seat which is dangerous in many ways including stopping to get gasoline or a cup of coffee. Criminals often get their guns by feeling around under car seats. Friday and Saturday nights are usually the good nights for that nonsense as people get drunk and leave their cars wide open with guns, wallets and all kinds of things in easy reach. Usually the only way these thieves get caught is by accident.

Robot kits (-1, Flamebait)

spiritplumber (1944222) | about a year ago | (#43336567)

I have been selling Android based robots since 2010 and have had the FBI over once. This is why we no longer sell the NAVCOM airplane. www.robots-everywhere.com

potential risk (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#43336587)

This is part of a disturbing trend (or tidal wave) of legislation trying to protect the public from potential risk and danger: gun control, control of locksmith tools, control of network testing tools etc. are all designed to restrict activities and objects that are primarily used for legal purposes but might be used to create harm. The control and licensing measures being enacted have never been shown to work, but they make people feel good. Of course, they also take away individual freedoms more and more.

Right now, most of these laws come from law-and-order Republicans and a bunch of left wing causes. But make no mistake: if this goes far enough, it will come back and even eat away at recent progress in social liberalization. Much the same legal reasoning that can be applied to guns and violent crime can be applied to sex and reproduction.

Miscarriage (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#43336603)

On the face of it this is a grave miscarriage of justice. The 24 year sentence is ridiculous.

But did Alfred Anaya make a mistake? Surely he did, by not walking away when he saw the $800,000 in his customer's compartment. Anything he did for this customer after that revelation put him in a bad position.

Unfortunately the courts and the DOJ seem to have little flexibility or perspective. This is a situation where an appropriate punishment would be probation and perhaps a suspended sentence.

This has been holding back electic vehicles... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336651)

I tried to convert a pickup to electric power in the early 1990's. The problem I ran into was: The cops consider it illegal to build in batteries under the bed of a pickup, as that is a common place to hide large quantities of drugs. The resistance from law enforcement (and their claims that drugs could be hidden behind the batteries) literally stipped the project.

This is why Toyota developed the Prius with the tech we pioneered.

I had an Arlington, TX cop run a tire iron down the side of a Pontiac Grand Am looking for Bondo one time. The car had been hit by a postal truck, and had just been repaired. The cop thought that any trace of bondo would be enough to send me to jail for life. He was such an idiot he never got through the primer to the bondo. His department paid for the damages to the Pontiac.

There is no hope for the USA to regain a technological edge until the cops are stopped.

should of took the deal and be come a CI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336659)

should of took the deal and be come a CI.

You are guilty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336695)

In this country, everything will be illegal, and you will be guilty the moment you are born. USA #1 - land of the free.

Move out while you still can. (but don't come to Europe, we don't want you)

America is insane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43336697)

If you dont have a place to hunker down and do not go outside. It is pretty likely you will become a victim.
No matter what kind of injustice is presented on the net we never do anything and and an even worse one is only the next refresh away.
Dont be surprised if this gets even more deadly than a war.

Perhaps this issue of vets know how to fight back.

Really Stupid and Unconstitutional (1)

houbou (1097327) | about a year ago | (#43336709)

If I'm in the business of creating safes and other concealment areas in a house or whatever else for that matter, I don't think it's my job to interview my clients to know what they will put in them and it's also not my job to ask what they do for a living. I'm only concerned about whether I can get paid for my services. Bottom line, this is a travesty of justice. Abuse in its worse form. If I was filthy rich, I would actually fork out the cash to get this dude out of prison by hiring the best private investigators and the best lawyers and basically clear his name.

No-win situation (4, Insightful)

dr_dank (472072) | about a year ago | (#43336745)

Once this guy knew who he was doing business with, it gave him two crappy options:

1) Turn informant for the government. His customers would know in a moment that he flipped once they see that he's moved out of his house and suddenly has the money to open a fancy storefront with all the bells and whistles (bugged to the gills). Once they figure that out, he and his family are as good as dead.

2) Take your chances in court. Since the federal government moved the venue to Kansas, that'll practically secure a conviction for an LA Latino who can easily be painted as a gangster living large while working on spec for the drug lords. Also, this sets an example for those who refuse uncle sams generous offer to turn informant.

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