News and Press Releases

Federal Authorities Share $2.4 Million in Forfeited Assets with State and Local Law Enforcement

August 23, 2002

Reno, Nev. - Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada, and Tim Landrum, Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for the Las Vegas Field Office, distributed checks totaling approximately $2.4 million to nine law enforcement agencies for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of defendants in the marijuana trafficking case of U.S. v. Mancuso et al.. The checks represent the proceeds from the sale of two properties in Hawaii which were seized and forfeited by one of the defendants in the case, Brian Degen.

From early 1970 until approximately August 1993, a marijuana trafficking organization, some of whose members resided in Squaw Valley, California, was involved in the importation and distribution of over 60,000 kilograms of marijuana in the United States and the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars. The organization operated principally between Southeast Asia and the west coast of the United States, and consisted of over 100 persons. It spanned seven states and 14 countries, including Nevada, California, Florida, Alaska, Colorado, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Germany, Austria, Australia, the Cayman Islands, Panama, and Switzerland. It imported multiple tons of marijuana into the United States from Thailand. Members of the organization dealt extensively in cash and established off-shore bank accounts, nominee bank accounts, shell corporations, foreign corporations, and partnerships, and purchased extravagant personal items and real property. Members also purchased fraudulent identification documents to avoid detection and apprehension, paid expensive attorney's fees, and traveled extensively abroad for business and pleasure.

In 1985, investigators with the Reno DEA Task Force, comprised of the DEA, Nevada Division of Investigation, Douglas County Sheriff's Department, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and Eldorado County, California Sheriff's Department, initiated an investigation of the drug trafficking organization and successfully targeted Ciro Mancuso and 17 top level managers/organizers of the organization. A 49-count Indictment against Mancuso and 17 other defendants was returned by a federal grand jury in Reno in October 1989, charging violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Conspiracy, Importation, Distribution, and Possession of Marijuana, Obstruction of Justice, Money Laundering and Tax Evasion.

The assets were seized and forfeited pursuant to Title 21, United States Code, Section 881, and the authority granted to the Attorney General in the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. The Act authorized the sharing of federal forfeiture proceeds with any state or local law enforcement agency that directly participates in an investigation or prosecution that results in a federal forfeiture. The amount shared represents the net proceeds of the forfeiture. To date the Department of Justice has shared over 2.5 billion in forfeited assets with more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement agencies providing them with the funds they need to support community policing activities, training, and law enforcement. The primary purpose of the program is the deterrence of crime by depriving criminals of the profits and proceeds of their illegal activities, and the weakening of criminal enterprises by removing the instrumentalities of crime. The sharing of federal forfeiture proceeds has also enhanced cooperation among law enforcement agencies and has helped to foster teamwork and joint investigations. The use of the monies by the receiving state and local law enforcement agencies is restricted to law enforcement uses such as future investigations, law enforcement training, and law enforcement facilities and equipment, etc.

The agencies which participated in the investigation and are receiving checks today are: the Nevada Division of Investigation, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office, the South Lake Eldorado Narcotics Enforcement Team (SLEDNET), the Placer County California Sheriff's Office, the Nevada County California Sheriff's Office, the Marin County California Task Force, the La Plata County Colorado Sheriff's Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Kauai, Hawaii Police Department. The total assets being shared with all of the above agencies from the forfeiture and sale of the two Hawaii properties is $2,459,573.66. The total assets being shared with Nevada state and local agencies is $1,117,988.03. The breakdowns for the individual agencies are as follows:

Nevada Division of Investigation $141,273.53 
$ 30,724.60
Placer County Sheriff's Department $141,273.53 
$ 30,724.60
Nevada County Sheriff's Department $141,273.53 
$ 30,724.60
Washoe County Sheriff's Department $423,820.59 
$ 92,173.88
SLEDNET $706,367.65 
(SLEDNET check to be divided among South Lake Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff's Department, Eldorado County Sheriff's Department and the Nevada Division of Investigation)
Marin County Task Force $ 56,509.41
$ 12,289.85
La Plata County Sheriff's Department $141,273.53 
$ 30,724.60
Texas Department of Public Safety $ 70,636.77
$ 15,362.31
Kauai Police Department $197,782.94
$ 43,014.48

Over 200 assets totaling approximately $8,202,207 have previously been seized and forfeited by defendants in this case, and have included U.S. currency, numerous pieces of real estate, bank accounts, sailing vessels, vehicles, and considerable amounts of personal property. Of that amount, approximately $4,151,687 has been distributed and shared with state and local law enforcement agencies.

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