by Ian Imrich


During law enforcement operations, state and local law enforcement agencies often seize assets and proceeds from assets linked to criminal activity. The purpose of the seizures typically is to ensure that criminal organizations and individuals do not benefit from illegal activities. State and local law enforcement agencies may seek to have such assets forfeited under state law or, alternatively, agencies may transfer the seized assets to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or another component of the Department of Justice (DOJ or the Department) for forfeiture under federal law through the Department’s Asset Forfeiture Program. Transferred seizures are referred to as “adoptive” seizures because the federal agency adopts the seizures made by state and local law enforcement agencies.

The DEA Agents Manual states that, in reviewing an adoption request from state or local law enforcement agencies, the DEA should take into consideration whether:

•state law authorizes the transfer of the asset(s) to the federal government for forfeiture, •state law or procedures are inadequate or forfeiture experience is lacking in the state system, •the appropriate state or local prosecuting official has reviewed the case and declined to initiate forfeiture proceedings, •a "significant amount" (that is, an amount sufficient to warrant federal prosecution) of drugs is involved, and

•the government is likely to be able to satisfy its requisite burden of proof that the asset is subject to forfeiture.

Federal law authorizes the Department to share with state and local law enforcement agencies the property and proceeds from adoptive and joint seizures forfeited under federal law. This process is called equitable sharing. Any property or proceeds transferred to a state or local law enforcement agency must have a reasonable relationship to the degree of participation the agency had in the law enforcement effort that led to the seizure. Equitable sharing of seized property encourages cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. To receive an equitable share of seized property, a participating law enforcement agency must submit an equitable sharing request form to the federal agency processing the asset for forfeiture. Seized assets and equitable sharing requests are tracked in the Department’s Consolidated Assets Tracking System (CATS).

The objective of our audit was to assess the design and implementation of the DEA’s adoptive seizure process. We selected the DEA Atlanta Division for testing because, within the DEA, the Atlanta Division processed the largest dollar value of adoptive seizures and testing at the Atlanta Division enabled us to make efficient use of time and cost resources.


We found that the DEA generally complied with its internal controls for adoptive seizures that we tested. The DEA’s adoptive seizure process was designed to ensure compliance with laws and regulations except that the process did not require the DEA to make and preserve records of adoption requests that it denied. Without these records, we could not assess whether the DEA made the appropriate decisions pertaining to denied adoptive seizure requests. We also found that the form published by the DOJ Criminal Division and submitted to the DEA by state and local law enforcement agencies to request a federal adoption should be revised. The revised form should provide DEA managers who approve adoption requests with more information about whether the state and local law enforcement agencies followed state forfeiture law, if required, before seeking a federal adoption.

Nationwide, 9,035 equitable sharing requests estimated at $318.8 million were still in a “pending” (not paid) status for more than 4 years after the assets were seized.

As a result of our audit, we make three recommendations to improve the DEA’s adoptive seizure process and the Department’s Asset Forfeiture Program. First, we recommend that the DEA implement procedures to create and maintain records pertaining to adoption requests that were denied and the reasons for the denial. Those records could consist of emails containing details about the seizures and the reasons the DEA denied the adoption requests. Second, we recommend that the DEA coordinate with the Criminal Division, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, to modify the adoption request form to include questions pertaining to whether state and local law enforcement agencies followed state forfeiture laws, if applicable, before seeking a federal adoption. Finally, we recommend that the DEA coordinate with Justice Management Division’s Asset Forfeiture Management Staff regarding the need for a system to: (1) identify equitable sharing requests pending for more than 6 months after forfeiture and disposal actions are completed, and (2) ensure that the appropriate DOJ component updates CATS as necessary for each pending request.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ian Imrich, Law Offices of Ian J. Imrich, APC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ian Imrich

Law Offices of Ian J. Imrich, APC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.