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Minnesota asset forfeiture in 2021 total over $7.7 million

(The Center Square) – Minnesota’s 2021 Asset Forfeiture report estimates total proceeds at $7.7 million, up from 2020’s $5.6 million in forfeitures.

Minnesota’s Office of the State Auditor releases the report annually tracking the amount forfeited, the statutory authority, the disposition date, a description of what happened, whether the forfeiture was contested, and the final disposition.

“We are seeing a decrease in the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on asset forfeitures,” Auditor Julie Blaha said during a morning presentation.

The records only reflect property forfeited under state statutes and do not reflect all property forfeiture activity in 2021.

In 2021, 295 Minnesota law enforcement agencies reported a total of 6,217 completed forfeitures. In 2020, there were 5,785 completed forfeitures.

Of the 6,217 completed forfeitures reported in 2021, 3,385 involved seized cash, property that was sold, or an agreement that required monetary compensation to the agency. The total net proceeds was $7.79 million.

In 2021, gross sales of forfeited property or seized cash totaled $10.9 million, administrative expenses and lienholders’ obligations totaled $1.6 million, and amount returned totaled $1.7 million.

The agencies with 100 or more completed forfeitures in 2021 were:

  • Minnesota State Patrol (1,335).
  • Southeast Minnesota Violent Crime Enforcement Team (181).
  • Wright County Sheriff’s Office (175).
  • Saint Paul Police Department (134).
  • Dakota County Drug Task Force (124).
  • Minneapolis Police Department (107).
  • Southwest Hennepin Drug Task Force (104).
  • CEE-VI Drug Task Force (100).

In 2021, vehicles accounted for 63% of property seized, followed by cash at 25%, firearms at 11%, and other property at 1%.

Blaha said that it’s too soon to see the effects of legislation limiting small asset forfeiture.

“Last year, bipartisan legislation limiting small asset forfeitures was passed,”  Blaha said. “While this year’s data may be further evidence on why asset forfeiture reform was needed, the effect of the new legislation will not show up in this report.”

The most common criminal activities leading to seizure, forfeiture, and final disposition of property in 2021 were related to DUIs and controlled substances, accounting for 91% of the forfeitures.

DUI-related forfeitures accounted for 2,841, or 46%, of reported forfeitures, while forfeitures involving a controlled substance accounted for 2,829, or 46%, of reported forfeitures. The remaining forfeitures involved fleeing (298), weapons (99), “other” crimes (51), racketeering (25), prostitution (21), assault (20), burglary (17), and robbery/theft (16).

For 2021, 149 agencies reported that they did not process any property under the forfeiture statutes, compared to 148 in 2020.

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