Where Does All That Seized Money Go?

Asset forfeiture: an ugly side of the drug war
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2008 5:42 AM CDT
Members of the media gather to photograph confiscated guns and money seized during a series of raids on a violent South Los Angeles street gang.    (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
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(Newser) – What would you do with a few million in drug money? Last year, state and federal authorities seized about $2 billion from Mexican smugglers. The feds have to put any seized money into a dedicated fund, but the rules are looser for states. In Texas and Georgia, for example, sheriffs and district attorneys get to keep any seized loot for their departments. The Economist takes a look at the issue and the sometimes iffy purchases that result.

Among them: a margarita machine, a training seminar in Hawaii, and a $90,000 sports car used to advertise anti-drug programs. Besides abuses, some poorer counties have come to rely on the funds for their budgets, which may make them more likely to go after cash-laden traffickers heading back to Mexico, after they've sold their goods, rather than catching them when they're first heading north. (Read more asset forfeiture stories.)