News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2006
Contact: Ruth Porter-Whipple
Number: 404-893-7128

DEA Presents Over $2 Million to Local Atlanta Police Departments

Photo: Asset sharing recipients.

APR 06 -- ATLANTA Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Sherri F. Strange presented over $2 million to six local police departments today as a result of cash seized during a joint drug investigation.

Today, SAC Strange presented checks in the amount of $301,671.19 to the Atlanta Police Department, Cartersville Police Department, Covington Police Department, Douglasville Police Department and Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office. DeKalb County Police Department received a check in the amount of $502,785.31.

In February 2004, Atlanta Task Force Group II initiated an investigation into the marijuana trafficking activities of a local organization. After extensive surveillance in May 2004, Agents obtained a search warrant for a storage warehouse. The search resulted in the seizure of $2,514,064.00 in U.S. currency. A consent search of a related residence resulted in the seizure of an additional $300,000.00 in currency.

DEA Special Agent in Charge, Sherri F. Strange stated, "In as much as DEA places the highest priority on removing dangerous drugs from the street, DEA also places a high priority on seizing the ill gotten gains of illegal drug trafficking. DEA's intent clearly is to put drug traffickers out of business, using every means possible. Individuals have no right to keep any proceeds derived from their illegal activity. It makes no sense to do otherwise. In fact, to allow criminals to keep their ill gotten gains would tend to encourage criminal activity rather than discourage it."

SAC Strange later commented, "Last year, over $29 million of illegal drug trafficking proceeds was seized by DEA in the metro Atlanta area alone. Today's sharing of some of this forfeited money will help strengthen the local law enforcement community and provide resources which will further enhance our efforts at combating illegal drug trafficking in and around Atlanta. This is surely a good thing for all of us who live and work in metro Atlanta."

Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington stated, "The Atlanta Police Department is very proud of the working relationship that has been built with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the other agencies involved in this and the other task forces. This relationship has resulted in many arrests and seizures of drugs and money that have contributed to lower crime, additional assets for the city, and a safer Atlanta."

DeKalb County Police Chief Louis Graham said, "The equitable sharing of illegal proceeds enhances our department’s capabilities in attacking drug traffickers and the fight against violent crimes. This helps to enhance the quality of life within our county."

"The funds received from asset forfeitures certainly allow us to purchase equipment not normally bought through our normal budget process. It’s a windfall for us," stated Douglasville Police Chief Joe Whisenant.

Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington said, "Asset sharing has proven to be of great benefit to our department. County budgets would not typically provide for the equipment and technology that we have been able to purchase with these funds."

DEA has always emphasized the importance of disrupting drug organizations by attacking the financial base which supports the illegal drug trade. DEA has made unprecedented progress in seizing and forfeiting drug-related proceeds and assets. During 2005, DEA operations stripped drug traffickers of nearly $1.9 billion in drug proceeds. This includes $1.4 billion in asset seizures and $477 million in drug seizures.

Forfeited assets are transferred to state and local departments through the Department of Justice’s "Equitable Sharing Program". Each agency that participates in the program is required to use the funds for law enforcement purposes. The program is designed to enhance cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement through the sharing of proceeds resulting from federal forfeiture. State and local law enforcement agencies receive equitable sharing revenues by participating with federal law enforcement in joint investigations that lead to the forfeiture of assets such as cash, real property, vehicles, etc. The amount that is shared with state and local agencies is usually based on each agency’s level of participation in the case.