CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney R. Andrew Murray announced Wednesday the distribution of $730,296 in federally-forfeited funds to state and local law enforcement agencies, resulting from a forfeiture action against convicted drug trafficker James Alexander Brown.
The Justice Department recovered more than $1 million from Brown, of which 80 percent will be shared with 15 law enforcement agencies pursuant to the Department of Justice’s Equitable Sharing Program.
“My office’s criminal and forfeiture prosecutors work hand in hand to put drug traffickers behind bars and to take away the proceeds of their illegal drug trade,” said U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement . “Asset forfeiture is a key tool in our efforts to stem the flow of drugs into our neighborhoods. Through the Equitable Sharing Program, we are able to seize drug traffickers’ ill-gotten gains and assist our law enforcement partners with obtaining the resources they need to effectively protect their communities.”
“Taking away the funds from drug trafficking organizations continues to be one of DEA’s top priorities. Doing so cripples and eventually topples these criminal enterprises. The cooperation with our law enforcement counterparts and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office is crucial to the success of these forfeitures,” said Robert J. Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Atlanta Field Division regarding the Equitable Sharing Program.
According to court documents, James Alexander Brown was part of a drug distribution ring, and he was responsible for trafficking large amounts of high grade marijuana from California into North Carolina. Brown stored the marijuana in storage units in Winston Salem, N.C. and distributed it in the Charlotte area. Over the course of the investigation, state and local law enforcement provided invaluable assistance to DEA including, among other things, surveillance operations, execution of search warrants, and Brown’s apprehension. As a result of the joint investigation, Brown was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and was sentenced to prison.
As part of his plea agreement, Brown forfeited to the United States a Lexus automobile, a Sea Ray boat he used for drug transactions, and $1,058,400 that Brown had transferred to a bank account in Singapore. The U.S. District Court ultimately ordered the forfeiture of the funds, the vehicle, and the boat. Net proceeds of the sale of the vehicle and boat were previously shared with the law enforcement agencies that assisted in the investigation.
Eighty percent of the more than $1 million in money seized and repatriated from Singapore will now be shared among state and local law enforcement agencies who devoted substantial resources to the investigation, including, but not limited to, the following agencies operating in and around Charlotte: the Pineville Police Department ($381,024); the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles ($52,920); the North Carolina Highway Patrol ($42,336); the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department ($42,336); the Cornelius Police Department ($42,336); the Huntersville Police Department ($42,336); the Mint Hill Police Department ($42,336); the Monroe Police Department ($42,336); and the Union County Sheriff’s Office ($42,336).
U.S. Attorney Murray commended the assistance and cooperation of the agencies involved in Brown’s investigation, all of which are identified below, and stated, “Brown was a large-scale drug trafficker, profiting at the expense of our communities. Now, through sharing, the Justice Department will use Brown’s money to reinvest in law enforcement and safety in those same communities that Brown’s criminal conduct targeted. My office is committed to using the Equitable Sharing Program to support our state and local law enforcement partners in fulfilling their mission to the people of the Western District. The practice of asset forfeiture, when done right, punishes offenders like Brown and takes the profit out of crime, thus serving as a serious deterrent.”
The asset forfeiture action was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Bain-Creed. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dana Washington handled the criminal prosecution.
15th Circuit Drug Enforcement Unit
Arkansas State Police Department
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department
Cornelius Police Department
Horry County Police Department
Huntersville Police Department
Mint Hill Police Department
Monroe Police Department
N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles
N.C. Highway Patrol
Pineville Police Department
Salisbury Police Department
Vernon Police Department
Winston-Salem Police Department
Union County Sheriff’s Department
Assets Forfeiture Fund (DEA contribution)
Source; U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of North Carolina