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Law enforcement seizes more than $6 million in vehicles and cash in 2012

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A State Auditors report said that law enforcement in Minnesota brought in $6.6 million in cash and property in 2012.

The Criminal Forfeitures Report says that 310 Minnesota law enforcement agencies reported a total of 6,851 incidents of property seized subject to forfeiture. It shows an increase over 2011 when 292 agencies reported 6,338 incidents of property being seized.

Under Minnesota law, property associated with criminal activity may be seized by law enforcement. The Star Tribune reports that drugs and drunken driving accounted for 89 percent of all forfeitures in the state. Game and fish violations came in a distant third.

Vehicles represented over half of the total number of forfeitures, making up 54 percent of seizures. Cash was second at about 33 percent, firearms were next around 11 percent.

According to the auditor, the agencies with 100 or more incidents of forfeiture include the Minnesota State Patrol with 948; the St. Paul Police Department with 690; Department of Natural Resources Enforcement Division with 441; the Minneapolis Police Department with 281; the Dakota County Drug Task Force with 149; the Southeast Minnesota Drug Task Force with 143; the Rochester Police Department with 141; and the CEE-VI Gang and Narcotics Task Force with 101.

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

Just 17 percent of the seized property was returned to its owner and six percent was destroyed. The remainder was forwarded to other agencies or used to resolve liens against the property.

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