LAREDO, Texas — The Webb County Sheriff's Office was presented with a check for more than $800,000 Thursday from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Janice Ayala, HSI Assistant Director of Domestic Operations from Washington, D.C., and Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio, presented a check for $843,948 to the Webb County Sheriff's Office. The funds were seized during an investigation into drug smuggling and money laundering, in which the sheriff's office played a vital role. No immediate arrests were made, and the investigation is ongoing.
"My office has an outstanding working relationship with the Webb County Sheriff's Office, and we continue to work hand-in-hand to share intelligence, and work toward dismantling criminal activity in Laredo and the surrounding south Texas communities," said Mr. Robinette. "I am pleased to share the forfeited proceeds of an illicit enterprise with the Webb County Sheriff's Office for their work in this investigation. I look forward to continuing to work with the Webb County Sheriff's Office, and our other law enforcement partners throughout Laredo, to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that impact the state. By working together, we are making a big impact."
"The Webb County Sheriff's Office is dedicated to working cooperatively with our law enforcement partners to constrain, disrupt, dismantle and eliminate criminal activity from our community," stated Sheriff Martin Cuellar. "We are working together every day with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to suppress criminal activity in our area. With these funds, the Webb County Sheriff's Office can provide enhanced services to our citizens and improve our operational capabilities in order to be better equipped to combat these criminal organizations. I commend the hard work of both my officers and the Homeland Security Investigations special agents on this particular case and look forward to continuing cooperative endeavors with all agencies in our area to provide our community with only the best law enforcement services and protection."
The funds constitute a portion of the assets that were obtained when the money was seized. HSI distributed them in accordance with the U.S. Treasury Department's equitable sharing program, which applies to assets seized by the federal government as proceeds of crimes.
Asset forfeiture is a powerful tool used by HSI and other law enforcement agencies to seize assets from criminal organizations and their illicit enterprises. Under the equitable sharing program, federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and foreign governments working with HSI 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.
To report an individual, business or organization that may be engaged in the illicit transportation or smuggling of currency, call the HSI Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or complete the online tip form. The public can also contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS; your call can remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a cash reward.