Pubdate: Tue, 05 Oct 2004
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
Copyright: 2004 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
Author: Scott Barker, and Laura Ayo
Bookmark: (Asset Forfeiture)
Note: Complete series at


State narcotics laws allow law enforcement agencies to keep cash and
all proceeds from the sale of cars seized during drug investigations.

Local agencies have come to depend on the money to fund drug
investigations, freeing up tax revenues for other uses.

The Knoxville Police Department uses the money to underwrite
undercover narcotics purchases, pay informants and buy equipment.

"It's our primary source for what we do," said Lt. Gary Price, who
runs KPD's Organized Crime Unit. "We primarily use it to put back into

Over the past four years, KPD has seized about $551,200 from drug
offenders, records show. Cars confiscated during drug investigations
and later sold at auction have brought in another $131,100 over the
past two years.

Agencies are allowed to use vehicles forfeited to them for five years
before having to sell them at auction.

As the budget's set up now, Price said, narcotics investigations would
be crippled without the funding.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office did not return phone calls seeking
comment on its drug fund usage. State forfeiture records show the
Sheriff's Office seized about $523,000 in cash during the past four

The Sheriff's Office released incomplete records of its auctions of
forfeited vehicles, making it impossible to determine how much money
the agency has made from the sale of drug-related automobiles - but
it's at least $28,200.

Records in the Knox County Finance Department show the Sheriff's
Office, like KPD, uses the money to fund drug investigations. Those
records show the Sheriff's Office also uses the money for parts and
maintenance for the helicopter unit, construction materials, uniforms,
vehicles and other supplies.
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