Drone confiscated, arrested, put on trial, found guilty, never visit this country!

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Good thing that doesn't happen in America... Police being used to confiscate items for personal/departmental gains. Oh wait...

All true. In fact, many US police departments (not all) have abused these laws all over America for decades, and it's a well-known fact among the educated among us. just Google 'illegal police property confiscation', and you'll see page after page of these abuses, right here in the US of A. YeeHaw!

South Florida's Broward sheriff's department abused so many people, several judges finally put the hammer down and ordered the return of hundreds of cars and other possessions taken illegally. It's reported that Broward sheriff's department takes in $160,000 per month in seizures. And some of the seizures you cannot get back, even with a court order for release. Stay out of South Florida and Macedonia if you don't want your stuff taken.

``This all amounts to typical Gestapo mentality, which unfortunately is permeating police forces all over South Florida,`` said ex-policeman B.J. Cummins, a Fort Lauderdale defense attorney.
 
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Hello flyers.

Below is the story of my arrest by corrupt customs agents in the tiny country of Macedonia (north of Greece). People with drones in their luggage are being targeted by corrupt customs police as the resale value within the country is up to 5 times the retail value.

This is the story of how my car was stopped, my belongings confiscated and then the resulting trial, imprisonment, and conviction I faced, just for driving to the country with my Phantom 3. I wasn't even flying, just heading to Germany from Greece in a rental car!

Be warned.......and be scared.....very scared.....in Macedonia. I was tried in kangaroo court with 4 other drone owners and the customs depot is filled with drones just waiting to be sold by the police who first pocket your available cash then keep your goods.

Rick after watching your video. I feel really bad for you. That you had to experience that terrible country. Thank you for letting other people be aware of this I will pass it on myself
 
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Mind you drones are (technically) legal, but I personally watched 3 drone be confiscated that day, and there were many more in the warehouse. They are absolutely part of your personal belongings which in no way require declaration, but even if you declare them, you may lose them. It's a corrupt little country with otherwise beautiful scenery and nice (non police) people.
 
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Good thing that doesn't happen in America... Police being used to confiscate items for personal/departmental gains. Oh wait...
If you don't like Macedonia, stay out of Broward county in South Florida. The police here are notorious for the same behavior. There are decades old abuses and are commonly reported stories of this right here in the USA.
 
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I suggest you record with your iPhone if this ever happens in Broward to you personally. I doubt it is as widespread institutionally as in macedonia but asset forfeiture is certainly a temptation anywhere to simply stretch the law to meet budgets.
 
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Hello flyers.

Below is the story of my arrest by corrupt customs agents in the tiny country of Macedonia (north of Greece). People with drones in their luggage are being targeted by corrupt customs police as the resale value within the country is up to 5 times the retail value.

This is the story of how my car was stopped, my belongings confiscated and then the resulting trial, imprisonment, and conviction I faced, just for driving to the country with my Phantom 3. I wasn't even flying, just heading to Germany from Greece in a rental car!

Be warned.......and be scared.....very scared.....in Macedonia. I was tried in kangaroo court with 4 other drone owners and the customs depot is filled with drones just waiting to be sold by the police who first pocket your available cash then keep your goods.

This seems to be the Macedonian version of the asset forfeiture scam here in the U.S. which was fostered by the drug war and has been incrementally expanding throughout American law enforcement agencies. It started out with drug arrests but is graduating to other offenses. If you are arrested the police can seize your car and/or anything else of value they can claim is related to your unlawful activity -- such as everything in your home if that's where you're arrested. It has gotten so bad that some people have been falsely arrested, had their assets seized, then been cleared but are having a heck of a time getting their property returned.

For more detailed info, Google "Asset Forfeiture."
 
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I suggest you record with your iPhone if this ever happens in Broward to you personally. I doubt it is as widespread institutionally as in macedonia but asset forfeiture is certainly a temptation anywhere to simply stretch the law to meet budgets.
They will seize your iPhone, too. That's how bad it's getting with law-enforcement in America. Search out a police auction in your area and you'll be amazed at the things they sell -- mainly cars.
 
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Greetings flyers. Let me bring you up to date on developments on my story. It has taken on a life of its own.

First about the US Embassy. I did contact them during the ordeal. However, they have a policy of not intervening in unfolding legal matters in the country. They recommended a list of lawyers I could call at the time. I had already seen how ineffective having a lawyer was at the border. I passed up the opportunity (fees were about $500 US).

Next, my story went public in Macedonia, possibly because of some of your efforts. I have received an outpouring of apologies from both ordinary citizens and high ranking officials. Thus far I have received person emails and sincere apologies from the director of the Ministry Of Tourism, the US Ambassador to Macedonia and the Macedonian embassy in America. I have also received a promise that an investigation will be launched from a high ranking official in the Ministry of Justice. (Doubtful)

Macedonia is having a runup to nationwide elections starting on the 27th and the country is on edge. I've been asked by two government ministers to not make my video public by YouTube and Facebook until after that time. However having seen the institutional nature of the country firsthand, I did not really think holding off from publishing this more widely will do any good. I think everyone should know and maybe corruption voted out. What do you think?

Mind you, my drones and cash have not been returned. And I assume I'll never see those again.

There does seem to be a consensus amongst people who have contacted me that this is a very isolated incident. The Bitola crossing between Greece and Macedonia is a lonely road where there have been clashes between Syrian immigrants and the police as well as a major drug smuggling route to Europe. The police that day were likely amped up. Other border crossings and the airport may be more mellow. But I can only speak about my own experience and it was very shocking.

I personally witnessed every car being shaken down that day at Bitola and I went to court with multiple other tourists, two of whom also lost their drones. Others lost clothing, electronics, sports and other equipment. No one won and no one had any possessions returned even after fines were paid.

I'm having separation anxiety from my Phantom3. We had almost 500 great flights together, when you bond with your craft and some greedy police just take it, it's like they stole your pet. My last flight were the amazing monasteries of Meteora Greece so my Phantom, named Skydog, truly went to heaven before being sold into slavery.

And yes, during a brief moment I was left alone in the interrogation room, I managed to pull the micro card and all my other cards. I was tempted to break the gimbal too, but too scared to get caught. They did not get my footage.
Rickray,

First let me say I understand the emotional attachment you have (had) with your drone. After 500 successful and productive flights a certain kinship can develop.

Next, I'm very pleased that you've made some noise over this outrage and have received some feedback from pertinent officials. I hope you won't give up because if you happen to strike the right chord, which logically will be tourism-related, someone in the right position might decide it would be in their interest to compensate you to keep you quiet.

Best of luck to you.

Mike Kessler
 
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Although I hate that you went through such an experience, I do thank you so much for sharing. Very well put together. It does seem to me that the US Embassy could do something.
That might have been true a few generations back, but a new America has been quietly but steadily evolving and has been taking painful little nibbles out of the collective *** of mainstream Americans rather than great big bites which are the stuff that rebellions are made of.

The most this fellow can expect from the U.S. Embassy is a paragraph or two of eloquently composed, sympathetic, gracefully apologetic bs, nicely printed on heavy regal stock, multi-color letterhead.
 
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well the small country is not called Macedonia. Read a little history. This small country is called Skopia
 
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No, I am from beautiful Australia where we hear bull**** stories like this all the time....ones without full evidence....go cry somewhere else
Just out of curiosity Gary, what is your job?
 
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Not sure why Gary would think I don't have enough evidence when I recorded undercover video throughout, including paying my fine to get my passport back. The video now has 3800 views and an investigation in MK has led to a nationwide review of customs police conduct. So some progress made.
 
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Some people do in fact support criminal behavior. Can't have good without evil , black vs. white. Victor and victims. Strong over weak.



Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots
 
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Hello flyers.

Below is the story of my arrest by corrupt customs agents in the tiny country of Macedonia (north of Greece). People with drones in their luggage are being targeted by corrupt customs police as the resale value within the country is up to 5 times the retail value.

This is the story of how my car was stopped, my belongings confiscated and then the resulting trial, imprisonment, and conviction I faced, just for driving to the country with my Phantom 3. I wasn't even flying, just heading to Germany from Greece in a rental car!

Be warned.......and be scared.....very scared.....in Macedonia. I was tried in kangaroo court with 4 other drone owners and the customs depot is filled with drones just waiting to be sold by the police who first pocket your available cash then keep your goods.




WOW. THANK YOU! As a fellow traveler (41 countries so far) I was shocked at your story. We coney drive across Europe. We have never driven into Macedonia but now we know we will avoid it. Scary because its just me, my wife and my 4 year old daughter who are traveling in Europe all the time.

This is very sad. Keep us updated and hopefully the US give steps in.
 
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Hello flyers.

Below is the story of my arrest by corrupt customs agents in the tiny country of Macedonia (north of Greece). People with drones in their luggage are being targeted by corrupt customs police as the resale value within the country is up to 5 times the retail value.

This is the story of how my car was stopped, my belongings confiscated and then the resulting trial, imprisonment, and conviction I faced, just for driving to the country with my Phantom 3. I wasn't even flying, just heading to Germany from Greece in a rental car!

Be warned.......and be scared.....very scared.....in Macedonia. I was tried in kangaroo court with 4 other drone owners and the customs depot is filled with drones just waiting to be sold by the police who first pocket your available cash then keep your goods.

Wow! What an experience. Thank You for showing the world your story. Most American's have no idea what it's like to leave this country. " I am an American you can't do that to me" is the mindset of far too many. They have no idea how helpless they can become in another country. Very scary indeed. I have shared your video. May you never have to experience anything like that again in your life.
 

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