Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. $86

United States District Court, C.D. California

March 4, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
$86, 425.00 IN U.S. CURRENCY and ONE 2008 CHEVROLET TRAILBLAZER, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT [17]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff United States of America ("the Government") filed a Complaint for Civil Forfeiture against Defendants $86, 425.00 in U.S. Currency and One 2008 Chevrolet Trailblazer. The Government alleges that the defendant currency represents or is traceable to the proceeds of illegal narcotic trafficking and comprises or is derived from proceeds traceable to a controlled substance violation and is therefore forfeitable to the United States. The defendant vehicle is alleged to have been used or intended to be used in the transport of a controlled substance and is therefore forfeitable to the United States. The Government effectuated service by publication and sent direct notice to known potential claimants. No one filed a claim to Defendants, and the Clerk of Court entered default. For the reasons addressed below, the Court GRANTS the Government's Motion for Default Judgment.[1]

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

On February 27, 2013, law enforcements officers conducted surveillance at David Hermosillo's Los Angeles, California residence. (Compl. ¶ 8.) After seeing Hermosillo exit the residence and enter the defendant vehicle, officers conducted a traffic stop during which time they found Hermosillo to be carrying $620 in U.S. Currency. ( Id. ) Officers notified Hermosillo that they had a search warrant for Hermosillo's residence. ( Id. at ¶ 9.) Hermosillo then told officers that there was methamphetamine in the residence. ( Id. )

Officers searched the residence on February 27, 2013 and found large quantities of methamphetamine in the kitchen and backyard. ( Id. at ¶¶ 10-12.) Also found at the residence were indicators of narcotic trafficking including numerous sandwich baggies and a digital scale, both of which are commonly used to package individualized quantities of narcotics for sale. ( Id. at ¶10.) Large amounts of U.S. Currency were also found in various locations in Hermosillo's bedroom. ( Id. at ¶ 11.) The U.S. Currency was in denominations consistent with narcotic trafficking. ( Id. ) The money found during execution of the search warrant makes up the defendant currency and consisted of 492 one hundred dollar bills, 94 fifty dollar bills, 1, 618 twenty dollar bills, 13 ten dollar bills, and 7 five dollar bills. ( Id. ) In addition, officers found a loaded firearm in Hermosillo's bedroom. ( Id. )

Officers also searched the defendant vehicle and found a hidden compartment underneath the passenger seat. ( Id. at ¶ 13.) The hidden compartment is of the type used to store narcotics, narcotic proceeds, and firearms. ( Id. ) A loaded firearm was recovered from the hidden compartment. ( Id. )

On September 10, 2013, the Government filed the civil-forfeiture Complaint against Defendants. (ECF No. 1.) The Government alleges that defendant currency represents or is traceable to proceeds of illegal narcotic trafficking or was intended to be used in one or more exchanges for a controlled substance or listed chemical, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 et seq . (Compl. ¶ 15.) It is therefore subject to forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6). ( Id. )

The Government also alleges in the Complaint that the defendant currency constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to a controlled substance violation, a specified unlawful activity as defined in 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(c)(7)(A) and 1961(1)(D). ( Id. at ¶ 17.) The defendant currency is therefore also subject to forfeiture pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 981(a)(1)(C). ( Id. )

In addition, the Government alleges in the Complaint that the defendant vehicle was used, or was intended to be used to transport, or in any manner to facilitate the transportation, sale, receipt, possession or concealment of a controlled substance or listed chemical. ( Id. at ¶ 19.) The defendant vehicle is therefore subject to forfeiture pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(4). ( Id. )

Beginning on September 23, 2013, notice of this action was published for 30 consecutive days on the Government's forfeiture website, http://www.forfeiture.gov. (Rodgers Decl. ¶ 4, Ex. B.)

The Complaint identifies three persons as having a potential interest in the Defendants: David Hermosillo, Dominique Barraza, and Brian A. Ramos. ( Id. at ¶ 7.) On September 12, 2013, the Government sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, letters to Hermosillo, Barraza, and Ramos at their last known addresses. (Rodgers Decl. ¶¶ 5, 7, 9, Exs. C, E, G.) The letters notified the potential claimants of the filing of the Complaint, enclosed a copy of the Complaint and the Notice, and advised the potential claimants that a claim must be filed by October 17, 2013. ( Id. ) The letters to Hermosillo and Barraza were returned by the U.S. Postal Service with the notations "Unclaimed" and "Return to Sender." ( Id. )

Also on September 12, 2013, the Government sent additional letters by certified mail, return receipt requested, to both Hermosillo and Barraza in care of their attorney, Jacek W. Lentz. ( Id. at ¶¶ 6, 8, Exs. D, F.) On September 24, 2013, the Government and potential claimants Hermosillo and Barraza stipulated to extend the time to respond to the Complaint. (ECF No. 4.) The new date for filing a claim was November 18, 2013, with an answer being due no later than December 9, 2013. ( Id. ) A second stipulation to extend time as to Hermosillo and Barraza was entered into, and approved by this Court, on November 12, 2013. (ECF Nos. 8, 10.) The deadline to file a claim was extended to December 16, 2013, with an answer being due no later than January 6, 2014. ( Id. )

The time to file a claim and the time to file an answer have now expired. To date, none of the potential claimants or anyone else has filed a claim to Defendants or an answer to the Complaint. On January 24, 2014, default was entered by the clerk. (ECF No. 15.) This ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.