DPS officials said the I-40 corridor, which runs through seven counties in Texas, is one of the busiest in the state for criminal activity. Drug cartels and smugglers often use the highway to transport narcotics, weapons, humans and illegal profits from coast to coast.At issue: DPS gets a larger cut in federal court:
Perhaps no issue proves more quietly contentious in the local law enforcement community than how the seized currency - about $14.6 million in 51/2 years - is divided among agencies hungry for revenue in a struggling economy.
In the end, only about 6.4 percent - or roughly $935,000 - of those seizures have remained in the area to benefit regional law enforcement agencies and taxpayers, according to hundreds of pages of documents released by the DPS in response to a public information request by the Amarillo Globe-News.
Records indicate DPS officials often choose to bypass Panhandle state courts in exchange for Amarillo's federal court when the largest amounts of money are at stake. It's a decision that has left some I-40 district attorneys frustrated and raised concerns the federal court route gives DPS an easier and larger payday at the expense of local counties and taxpayers.
Documents from the DPS indicate if a forfeiture case is filed in state court, the agency generally receives about 65 to 70 percent of the final profit, depending on a predetermined agreement that varies by county. Local counties get the rest. The federal government typically gets nothing, according to DPS records.BLOGVERSATION: Reacting to this post, Pete at Drug War Rant offers an excellent (if perhaps unlikely) suggestion for asset forfeiture reform to take the profit motive out of drug enforcement.
If the case is filed federally, the DPS usually receives about 80 percent of the forfeiture, and the federal government keeps about 20 percent.
In return, local counties - even those where the seizure occurred - won't get a penny, unless a county can prove a significant role in the investigation.