U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Thursday distributed $485,380 to the Pharr (Texas) Police Department as part of a federal asset-sharing program from monies which had been forfeited from an ongoing money laundering case.
HSI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Vance Callender presented the poster-sized check to Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas, City Manager Juan Guerra, and Mayor Amborsio Hernandez, M.D.
“The partnership we have with HSI is a model of how federal and local law enforcement agencies can and should cooperate in solving federal cases,” said Chief Ruben Villescas. “During these difficult economic times, these proceeds will allow the Pharr Police Department to complete several projects and obtain needed equipment without placing the financial burden on our taxpayers,” he continued.
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The police department plans to use the nearly half-million dollars to purchase body cameras and additional surveillance equipment.
The funds forfeited from criminal investigations are divided among the participating agencies as part of ICE’s asset-sharing agreement. The rest of the forfeited drug money is retained for U.S. federal agencies that participated in the investigation. The forfeited funds are distributed to local law enforcement agencies to financially support the expensive work of fighting crime and keeping the streets of south Texas safe.
Individuals and organizations involved in the myriad of criminal conduct, for which ICE has been charged with combating, are oftentimes involved for one reason only – commercial advantage and/or financial gain – in other words, to make money. Whether utilized in the fight against human smuggling, narcotics, weapons, or contraband smuggling, financial crime, commercial fraud and intellectual property rights violations, asset forfeiture has proven to be a powerful tool in combating criminal activity and other violations that threaten national security.
The ICE Asset Forfeiture Program exemplifies ICE’s efforts in the area of identification, seizure and forfeiture of assets that represent the proceeds of, and/or were used to facilitate federal violations under the investigative jurisdiction of ICE. The program adheres to the core belief that the consistent, and strategic, application of asset-forfeiture laws is used in order to disrupt and dismantle the financial infrastructure of criminal enterprises and other national security threats. Asset Forfeiture is an essential element of comprehensive and effective law enforcement. Accordingly, ICE brings to bear considerable authority, expertise and resources in the area of asset forfeiture. The forfeiture of assets can be and is utilized as a sanction in criminal, civil and administrative investigative activities.
To report suspicious activity, call ICE’s 24-hour toll-free hotline at: 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or visit www.ice.gov.