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For Immediate Release

Contact:
October 22, 2012 DUSM Ben Segotta, District of New Mexico (505) 462-2330
U.S. Marshals Put Federal Seizures to Good Use

Albuquerque, NM - The U.S. Marshals Service turned over custody of four vehicles, a 2004 Chevy Silverado K1500 valued at $11,475, a 2005 Pontiac GTO valued at $12,825, a 2002 Lexus GS 300 valued at $6,400 and a 2007 Chevy Silverado K2500HD valued at $24,725 to the Otero County Sheriff’s Office Thursday.

The Otero County Sheriff’s Office received the vehicles under the Marshals’ equitable sharing program. The vehicles were seized by the DEA during an investigation in which the vehicles were either used in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or purchased with funds from illegal sources.

In January, during an investigation initiated by the Otero County Sheriff’s Office, a drug detection canine was used on the 2004 Chevy Silverado K1500 and 2005 Pontiac GTO, which resulted in a positive alert for the presence of contraband in the vehicles. The investigation revealed that the vehicles were used to transport marijuana and cocaine. Also in January, the 2007 Chevy Silverado K2500HD and 2002 Lexus were seized following a state search warrant at the defendant’s residence. The Drug Enforcement Agency adopted the case and took custody of the four vehicles after proving the cars and trucks were used in the commission of a crime or purchased with drug money.

The vehicles were then turned over to the Marshals Service as the agency responsible for their safekeeping during federal court proceedings required for the federal government to take possession of the assets. Once a federal court ruled that the vehicles were indeed used in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime or purchased with funds from illegal sources, the U.S. Marshals began the process to return the vehicles to the Otero County Sheriff’s Office which had requested the vehicles under the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program.

The Otero County Sheriff’s Office spent a total of 142 hours on the case in which the assets were seized and requested 100% of the equitable sharing so they could keep all the vehicles for official use. Their request was granted and the U.S. Marshals Service turned over custody of the four vehicles to the Otero County Sheriff’s Office in Albuquerque Wednesday.

United States Marshal for the district of New Mexico Conrad E. Candelaria commented “the Marshals Service for the District of New Mexico is lockstep with local, county, state, tribal and federal agencies in the pursuit of dangerous criminals and fugitives, with an overarching mission to permanently eradicate criminal activities and enterprises. The Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program further illustrates the commitment to the law enforcement community by providing additional resources to assist in the fight against crime. “

The Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program serves not only to deter crime but also to provide valuable additional resources to state and local law enforcement agencies. The most important objective of the program is law enforcement. Equitable sharing further enhances this law enforcement objective by fostering cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Department of Justice policy requires shared monies and property to be used for law enforcement purposes, such as:

  • Law enforcement investigations
  • Law enforcement training
  • Law enforcement and detention facilities
  • Law enforcement equipment
  • Drug and gang education and awareness programs
  • Support of community-based programs

Equitable Sharing Program Vehicles

The U.S. Marshals Service is the primary custodian of seized and forfeited property for the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture Program. More than 8,400 items of forfeited property are sold annually with gross sales in excess of $100 million.

Additional information about the U.S. Marshals Service can be found at http://www.usmarshals.gov.

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