LAREDO, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday distributed more than $2 million in "asset sharing" funds, which were seized from various bulk cash smuggling investigations, to the Laredo Police Department and the Webb County Sheriff's Office.
ICE Special Agent in Charge Jerry Robinette presented poster-size checks to Laredo Police Chief Carlos Maldonado and Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar. Both agency heads participated in a news conference hosted by ICE. The $2,024,073.22 distributed was seized from four local investigations. The monies are divided among the participating agencies as part of ICE's asset sharing agreement. Of the total distributed, Laredo Police Department received $1,356,068.22 and Webb County Sheriff's Office received $668,005.
In poetic justice fashion, the seized monies are distributed to local law enforcement budgets so the agencies can continue to fund the expensive work of fighting crime and keeping our streets safe.
"ICE is especially proud to recognize the key role that our local law enforcement partners play in addressing the significant threat illegal bulk cash smuggling poses," said Robinette, who heads the ICE Office of Investigations in San Antonio. "Seizing this money from criminals and giving it to local law enforcement sends the right message to the public and to criminal organizations. These funds allow Webb County Sheriff's Office and the Laredo Police Department to continue their excellent work."
"When we seize contraband from criminals and smuggled goods at our ports, we take bad things off the street. When there is less of what is bad, we make things better for the good of all," said Congressman Henry Cuellar. "I thank ICE and the local law enforcement agencies for their collaborative efforts."
"The Laredo Police Department is committed to the continued battle against criminal drug organizations and to further our successful collaborations with ICE," said Laredo Chief of Police Carlos Maldonado. "The collaborative effort in this case demonstrates how the Laredo law enforcement community works collectively towards not only making effective arrests but also taking the money away from the criminal organizations and instead using that money to further ensure the safety of the citizens of Laredo."
"This check serves as a symbol of the great working relationship between the law enforcement community here in Laredo," said Sheriff Cuellar. "The law-abiding citizens of Webb County shall rest assured that we will continue tracking down drug traffickers and others engaged in illegal activities."
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar also attended this news conference, along with representatives from the following agencies: the City of Laredo, U.S Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Field Operations and CBP's Laredo Border Patrol Sector.
Asset forfeiture is a powerful tool used by ICE and other law enforcement agencies to seize assets from criminal organizations in their illicit enterprises or acquired through criminal activity. Under the related equitable sharing program, federal, state and local law enforcement partners and foreign governments working with ICE in joint investigations can be eligible to receive a portion of the proceeds of a federal forfeiture, which fosters greater partnership and cooperation among agencies.