BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - A business in a Beverly Hills strip mall that was raided by federal agents contained safe deposit boxes the government said were used by criminals to stash guns, drugs and cash.
U.S. Private Vaults was raided March 22 and agents found weapons, fentanyl, OxyContin and at least one box that contained $1 million in cash, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The U.S. attorney for the Los Angeles area alleged the company purposely marketed itself to criminals as a place where customers could stash valuables and tax officials would have a tough time identifying them or what was in the security boxes, according to The Times.
Beverly Hills, CA - April 02: FBI's Beverly Hills vault raid challenged in court. A suit alleges that jewelry, currency, coins and bullion illegally seized from safe deposit box in FBI's raid of a private vault U.S. Private Vaults on Friday, April 2,
Prosecutors also alleged that an owner and employee of the business were involved in drug sales at the location and helped customers convert cash into gold in amounts designed to avoid suspicion.
At least one customer has claimed in court the government should not have confiscated items in every box without detailing what crimes the box's owner was suspected of committing.
According to The Times, the customer's attorney, Benjamin Gluck, wrote in a complaint "Just as the tenant of each apartment controls that space and therefore has a reasonable expectation of privacy in it, each of the hundreds of renters of safety deposit boxes ... has a separate reasonable expectation of privacy in his or her separately controlled box or boxes.''
Prosecutors argued the judge who approved the warrant to raid U.S. Private Vaults gave permission for the sweeping seizures.
The business remained closed Friday and black duct tape covered a security camera and door locks and a note taped to the front door instructed customers to go to the FBI's website to begin a claim to get their belongings returned.