Press Release: State Auditor Julie Blaha Releases 2018 Asset Forfeiture Report
For Immediate Release
August 15, 2019
Donald McFarland | 651-236-0494
St. Paul, MN – At a Capitol press conference earlier today, Minnesota State Auditor Julie Blaha released the 2018 Asset Forfeiture Report. Auditor Blaha reported that 317 law enforcement agencies reported a total of 8,091 completed forfeitures, up from 7,852 completed forfeitures in 2017. In 2018, vehicles accounted for 61 percent of property seized, followed by cash at 25 percent, firearms at 12 percent, and other property at 2 percent.
"The most common asset forfeitures in 2018 were connected to driving under the influence and controlled substances. DUI and controlled substance asset forfeitures accounted for 90 percent of the total," said Auditor Blaha. DUI-related forfeitures accounted for 3,668 of reported forfeitures, while forfeitures involving a controlled substance accounted for 3,643 of reported forfeitures.
"We have seen an uptick in the number of asset forfeitures over the past five years," Blaha continued. For additional context, there were just under 7,000 completed forfeitures in 2014.
In 2018, gross sales of forfeited property or seized cash totaled $11,118,265; administrative expenses, and lien holders’ obligations totaled $2,026,004; the amount returned totaled $1,076,832 and net proceeds totaled $ 8,290,623. This information can be found on page 10 of the Asset Forfeiture Report. Auditor Blaha focused on the context for this data during her remarks, particularly on the scale and impact of forfeiture at the state level and on individual Minnesotans.
"The revenue that results from forfeiture is modest when compared to law enforcement budgets, but it is major at the individual level. 93 percent of all forfeitures were between $100 and $4,999," added Auditor Blaha.
The forfeitures presented in this report only reflect property forfeited under Minnesota state statutes. Property forfeited under federal statutes is reported to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (USDT). The data can be found on the DOJ website at http://www.justice.gov/afp and the USDT website at https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/terrorist-illicit-finance/Asset-Forfeiture/Pages/annual-reports.aspx
For background purposes, the Minnesota Legislature authorized local law enforcement agencies to use forfeited property for law enforcement purposes or sell the property and use the proceeds of the sale for authorized agency activities in 1971. State laws governing property that is subject to forfeiture proceedings, and the actual disposition of the forfeited property, have changed considerably since their inception. A more detailed history of Minnesota forfeiture legislation can be found on pages 5-7 of the report.
The Office of the State Auditor is the constitutional office that oversees nearly $40 billion in local government finances for Minnesota taxpayers. The Office of the State Auditor helps to ensure financial integrity and accountability in local government financial activities. Julie Blaha is Minnesota’s 19th State Auditor. Follow us on Twitter @MNStateAuditor.