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U.S. Attorney’s Office Distributes Forfeited Proceeds of Cocaine Trafficking Case to Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the Bakersfield Police Department

APR 30 (BAKERSFIELD, Calif.) – The U.S. Attorney’s Office has distributed a portion of forfeited narcotics proceeds to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the Bakersfield Police Department, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. The final payment was made this month. In total, the Sheriff’s Office received $595,037.92, and the Police Department received $57,038.58. Both agencies assisted in the investigation of an international cocaine-distribution ring that distributed at least 202 kilograms, or 444 pounds, of cocaine to the Toronto area of Canada for distribution to Asian gang members.

Gurmeet Singh Bisla, 34, formerly of Livingston, transported drug proceeds for the cocaine-distribution ring led by Harjeet Mann, 56, former resident of Bakersfield and Mississauga in Ontario, Canada. Bisla, Mann, and Sukhraj Dhaliwal, 45, of Bakersfield, were found guilty of the drug conspiracy and cocaine trafficking at trial. On June 5, 2009, a fourth defendant, Jasdev Singh, 39, of Bakersfield, pleaded guilty before trial. The defendants used semi-tractor trailers to transport cocaine to Canada. During the conspiracy, large money seizures were made, including $169,910 seized from a truck in Sheldon, Illinois that was driven by Bisla. The case culminated with the seizure of nearly $845,000 intended for the purchase of 70 kilograms of cocaine. Mann was sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison; Bisla was sentenced to 16 years in prison, Dhaliwal was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Jasdev Singh was sentenced to seven years in prison.

These funds were made available through the U.S. Department of Justice’s equitable sharing program. The program is designed to enhance cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies through the sharing of proceeds resulting from federal forfeitures. State and local law enforcement agencies generally receive equitable sharing revenues by participating directly with DOJ agencies in joint investigations leading to the seizure or forfeiture of property. The amount shared with state and local law enforcement agencies is based on the degree of the agencies’ direct participation in the case.

“The Asset Forfeiture Program effectively disrupts large criminal enterprises. It literally takes the profits out of crime and distributes them fairly, effectively, and with tremendous benefit to the American people,” stated U.S. Attorney Wagner. “On behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice, I am pleased to return a portion of the forfeited funds in this case to the agencies that contributed time and resources to make this investigation and prosecution successful. I particularly want to thank the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the Bakersfield Police Department for their outstanding cooperation and investigative work in this major cocaine trafficking case.”

“Criminal organizations rely upon profits for survival, and asset forfeiture is an effective tool that can lead to their demise. As a result of this investigation, a criminal network has been dismantled and more than half a million dollars put back into the community through local law enforcement. The DEA looks forward to continuing collaborative efforts in Kern County,” stated DEA Acting Special Agent in Charge Bruce C. Balzano.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood stated: “In recent months the U.S. Department of Justice equitable sharing program has come under heavy scrutiny. This case is a perfect example why the program is important to law enforcement and the communities we serve. The money received from drug trafficking suspects in this case will be funneled back into the Sheriff's Office and used to further fight the war on drugs. Equitable Sharing is an integral part of our narcotics successes.”

This case was the product of an extensive Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Bakersfield office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Kern County Sheriff’s Office, and the Bakersfield Police Department. The Toronto North Drug Section of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Illinois State Police, the Jasper County (Indiana) Sheriff’s Office, Kanakee (Illinois) Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group, the Merced Police Department, and the Livingston Police Department assisted in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Karen A. Escobar prosecuted the case.


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