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Asset Forfeiture Laws Between Federal, State Agencies

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WESLACO – Federal and state laws govern the process of asset forfeiture.

Attorney Rene Flores explained to CHANNEL 5 NEWS how it works. He said funding that comes from asset forfeiture can benefit a community.

Flores said raids are just the beginning of a long judicial process for the person being arrested. But the things they used to facilitate the crime also go through a process.

“Assets can come in the form of real property. Assets can be in the form of cash, they can be in the form of cars, possessions, cell phones, those are all considered assets,” he explained.

He said if a car or house was used or intended to a commit a crime, purchased with profits from a crime, or used to facilitate a crime, they become contraband and can be taken away.

Flores added it can benefit law enforcement agencies who participate in raids like the one in Alamo.

But before that happens, they talk about how the profits from the sale of the contraband will be divided.

"It's usually done through some sort of agreement between the attorneys representing the state and the department or the entity involved in the seizure," said Flores.

He said state or federal agencies team up with local officers to be part of task forces. They know the value in teaming up with local officers with intimate knowledge of their communities.

When the time comes to split the costs of the seized contraband, the community reaps the benefits to "hire more officers, buy better equipment, [and] hire more personnel.”

Flores said the final decision is subject to the judicial process.

He said reports of how much in forfeiture funds come in and how that money is used are due on an annual basis.

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