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State auditor: Law enforcement seized $6.6 million in vehicles, cash last year

Posted by: Abby Simons under Minnesota legislature Updated: November 22, 2013 - 9:51 AM

Vehicles made up most of the $6.6 million in cash and property seized by law enforcement last year, according to a Minnesota State Auditor’s report released Monday.


In 2012, 310 state law enforcement agencies reported 6,851 incidents of property seized, a slight jump from 6,338 incidents reported by 292 agencies in 2011.


Under Minnesota law, property associated with suspected criminal activity may be seized by law enforcement, who then report details to the state auditor.


Among the findings:


- Drugs and drunken driving accounted for 89 percent of all forfeitures. Game and fish violations came in at a distant third.

- Vehicles represented a little over half of the total number of forfeitures, making up 54 percent of seizures. Cash was second with 33 percent, followed by firearms with 11 percent.

- The value of the seizures ranged from $1 to $78,845. The average forfeiture was valued at $1,263.

- The Minnesota State Patrol performed  the most seizures, with 948. Next came the St. Paul Police Department with 690, followed by the Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division at 441 and the  Minneapolis Police Department, which performed 281 seizures.

- Of the seized property, 71 percent was cash or sold, with the exception of guns, which are destroyed. (Edited to add: The legislature amended the law in 1999 to allow law enforcement to sell seized firearms to federally licensed dealers.) The law enforcement agency that initiates the seizure gets 70 percent of the proceeds. The prosecuting agency gets 20 percent with the remaining 10 percent going to the state’s general fund.

- Just 17 percent of the property was returned to its owner. Six percent was destroyed, with the remainder forwarded to other agencies or used to resolve liens against the property.

The full 250-page report, which details vehicles seized, can be found here. The report does not specify other items with the exception of one: A homemade go-kart.

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