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In Re Return of Seized Property Taylor Artis and Edward Douglas

August 23, 2011

IN RE RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY TAYLOR ARTIS AND EDWARD DOUGLAS, JR.,
MOVANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR RETURN OF SEIZED PROPERTY

Movants Taylor Artis and Edward Douglas, Jr., have filed a Motion for Return of Seized Property. For the reasons set forth below, Movants' motion is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 1, 2011, at the San Diego International Airport, officers of the San Diego Integrated Narcotics Task Force ("NTF") seized $12,819.00 in U.S. currency from movant Edward Douglas and $8,608.00 in U.S. currency from Taylor Artis. The currency was seized for forfeiture as suspected drug proceeds. Douglas and Artis each received a receipt for the seized currency at the time of seizure. (Movants' Ex. 2.)

Douglas and Artis filed timely administrative claims dated February 11, 2011 for the return of the currency. (Movants' Exs. 3 & 4.) The DEA received the claims on February 14, 2011. (Movants Ex. 5.)

The DEA referred the matter to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California. After review, the United States Attorney decided not to file a civil forfeiture action. The matter was declined and returned to DEA.

On May 18, 2011, Movants commenced this action.

II. DISCUSSION

Movants contend that they are entitled to the immediate return of their currency under 18 U.S.C. § 983(a)(3)(A). The Court agrees.

Section 983(a)(3)(A) provides:

Not later than 90 days after a claim has been filed, the Government shall file a complaint for forfeiture in the manner set forth in the Supplemental Rules for Certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims or return the property pending the filing of a complaint, except that a court in the district in which the complaint will be filed may extend the period for filing a complaint for good cause shown or upon agreement of the parties.

(B) If the Government does not--(i) file a complaint for forfeiture or return the property, in accordance with subparagraph (A); or

(ii) before the time for filing a complaint has expired--

(I) obtain a criminal indictment containing an allegation that the property is ...


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