This article from Bloomberg View gives the history of the practice of Civil Asset Forfeiture. This issue was recently in the news when the Attorney General rolled back Obama restrictions on the practice.
This practice goes way back in history – even to the Middle Ages. Read it here. http://dld.bz/gdVGc
Note that there is a distinction between civil forfeiture and criminal forfeiture. Also, civil forfeiture cuts out the owner of the asset (usually money) and makes the property itself guilty. Property, unlike individuals, have no rights, so the government gets around all of that Bill of Rights stuff.
I give my own opinions of this issue in my history website. http://dld.bz/gdVGs