Blount County Sheriff’s Office’s coffers are nearly
$70,000 to the good as part of forfeiture that was the result of a Mexican drug trafficking
During a press conference today in Knoxville, BCSO was among the
19 state and local law enforcement agencies who received a share of $4,078,713 forfeited as a
result of a federal investigation into a Mexican drug trafficking
"That money will go into our drug fund so the 5th Judicial Drug
Task Force can continue to battle the illegal drug trade in Blount County," BCSO Public
Information Officer Marian O'Briant told The Daily Times.
example of how that money is used, O'Briant said, is the 2012 purchase of four new K-9s using
assets from the drug fund. "Without those funds, the cost of those K-9s, as well as other tools we
utilize for those purposes would fall on the taxpayers," she
According to a release from U.S. Attorney for the Eastern
District of Tennessee William C. Killian, evidence gained through a wiretap investigation led
agents to identify and stop a semi-truck being driven by Armanda Guzman Villegas and Javier
Cruz-Ramirez as it traveled west through the East Tennessee on Interstate 40. The subsequent
search of the truck’s content revealed several pallets of shrink-wrapped bottled water, one of
which contained about $4.1 million in cash in about 200 duct-taped bundles containing about
$20,000 in each bundle.
Cruz-Ramirez pleaded guilty
to racketeering-related charges and was sentenced to 60 months in prison, following by three years
of supervised released.
Villegas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to
distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and to racketeering-related charges. He was sentenced
to 60 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release.
The court also
ordered the forfeiture of the seized cash.
The U.S. Attorney’s
Office also recognized the roles played by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Assistant U.S.
Attorney David Lewen and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Dale in the investigation, conviction and
sentencing of Cruz-Ramirez and Villegas.
More to come