Law enforcement officials in Missouri seized more than $9 million worth of property in 699 seizures in 2018, according to a report of property seizures made under Missouri's Criminal Activity Forfeiture Act released last week by State Auditor Nicole Galloway.
Those were increases from 2017, when law officers seized approximately $7 million worth of property in 658 seizures.
Under the Criminal Activity Forfeiture Act, law enforcement officials may take possession of property or cash believed to be involved in or related to a crime. State law requires prosecuting attorneys and the attorney general to file information about reported seizures each year with the state auditor's office.
In Cole County last year, the value of nine seizures was $28,540. That's down from 18 seizures valued at $39,961 in 2017, according to the report.
Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler said seizures are turned over to the courts which then determine who gets what.
"It could be local, federal or state agencies or all those together getting something," Wheeler said. "Say we had a seizure done by the Mustang Drug Task Force. That could be divided among several agencies, so it takes time for the seizure process to be completed."
In Callaway County, the value of 11 seizures in 2018 was $79,887. In 2017, the county reported 12 seizures with a value estimated at $31,016.
There were no seizures reported in Moniteau County, down from one seizure in 2017 with a value estimated at $914.
In Osage County, there was one seizure worth $15,000. In 2017, the county reported one seizure valued at $3,027.
There were three seizures reported in Miller County with a value of $16,506 in 2018. No seizures were reported in Miller County in 2017.
In Morgan County, no seizures were reported in 2018; and in Maries County, there was one seizure valued at $2,100.
Approximately 63 percent of the total property or cash seized in 2018 was transferred to federal agencies. The remainder was either returned (6 percent), transferred to the state (1 percent) or still pending a final decision (23 percent). Approximately 6 percent of reported seizures did not include the disposition of the seized property.
A report on activities under federal forfeiture laws will be released later this year.