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GetSmart About Drugs - A DEA Resource for Parents

News Release
March 25, 2003

Asset Forfeiture Benefits Local Police Departments

image of DEA Lexington RAC Harvey Goehring presents Lexinton- Urban County Police Chief Anthony Beatty with an asset forfeiture check for their efforts on the Thorton/Harris investigation.
DEA Lexington RAC Harvey Goehring presents Lexington-Urban County Police Chief Anthony Beatty with an asset forfeiture check for their efforts on the Thorton/Harris investigation

Lexington, KY- During the past year the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized over $441 million dollars in drug-related assets and the Detroit Field Division accounted for over $24 million of that capital. The vast majority of the proceeds from these forfeited assets are distributed to state and local law enforcement agencies through the DEA asset-sharing program. Utilizing federal asset forfeiture statutes, local police departments are able to forfeit and utilize the drug-related assets of traffickers to bolster drug enforcement and education programs.

As an example of how this program works, the DEA recently joined forces with the Lexington Kentucky Police Department to do more than just arrest narcotics dealers in the area. In the fall of 2002, the Lexington Police Department was conducting an investigation of Charles Thorton and Ronald Harris, both of Chicago, Illinois. As the Lexington Police Department was conducting surveillance of this narcotics group, they stopped a vehicle leaving a local residence occupied by Thorton and Harris. Police seized 2 ½ pounds of marijuana during this traffic stop and arrested both suspects.

Officers then went to the residence in Lexington that Thorton and Harris left before being arrested. The resident at that home told police that Thorton and Harris had placed a bag under a sink of the home. Police found that bag, which contained a large amount of crack cocaine. They also found $15,320.00 in cash. Interviews determined that the cash was in fact drug proceeds from previous drug sales and as such, it was seized for forfeiture proceedings.

Federal asset forfeiture statutes allow law enforcement agencies to seize real property, cash, vehicles or any other form of illegally gained asset that is used to facilitate narcotics trafficking or is purchased with proceeds from drug trafficking. This has been an extremely valuable law enforcement tool in combating the illegal drug trade throughout the United States and the DEA routinely assists local police agencies with drug-related asset forfeitures. Forfeited assets can either be put into law enforcement use or they can be sold and the proceeds returned to the seizing law enforcement agency to be used in narcotics enforcement and education programs at the local level.

The DEA Lexington Office and the Lexington Police Department have had a strong, positive relationship for over many years. In fact, the Lexington Police Department has an officer assigned to the DEA Task Force, which significantly benefits both agencies.

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