Pubdate: Sun, 03 Oct 2004
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
Author: Laura Ayo and Scott Barker
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


The car of choice among drug offenders isn't a Beemer, a Lexus or a fully 
loaded sport utility vehicle.

It's the modest Chevrolet Caprice. At least that's what a computer analysis 
of records of vehicles seized in Knox County over the past four years under 
state narcotics laws indicates. The records include seizure warrants and 
state forfeiture case information.

The review showed law enforcement agencies seized 32 Caprices. The Nissan 
Maxima came in a distant second with 14. In contrast, authorities seized 
seven BMWs, six Mercedes, five Lexuses and one Hummer.

"They've learned to leave their good cars at home," said Bill Roehl, a 
deputy chief with the Knoxville Police Department.

Law enforcement agencies can confiscate vehicles under drunken driving laws 
as well. The analysis of vehicles seized under both types of laws showed 
Chevrolets and Fords were seized more often than any other brand. The 
oldest vehicle seized was a 1963 Chevy pickup truck.

State narcotics laws also allow authorities to seize money and other property.

"We seize anything traceable to drug proceeds," said Tennessee Department 
of Safety Attorney Joe Bartlett. "Money laundering gets your property seized."

The single biggest monetary seizure was $80,437 by the Knox County 
Sheriff's Office in 2002, according to the analysis. The agency had to 
return $7,500, but was able to keep the rest.

The review showed a Knoxville music store and its inventory, a house and a 
boat have been taken. Cell phones, pagers, jewelry and electronics were 
routinely confiscated. One man lost a bottle of testosterone and another 
surrendered six gold teeth.

The long arm of the forfeiture laws sometimes even reaches beyond the 
grave. In 2002, the Police Department responded to a report of gunshots. 
When they got to the scene they found a dead man, along with cocaine, 
marijuana and $13,180.

KPD got to keep the cash.

Laura Ayo may be reached at 865-342-6341. Scott Barker may be reached at 
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