Seized cash goes to Ardmore police, DA's office
ARDMORE, Okla. (KTEN) — In 2019, Ardmore police seized more than $300,000 in drug proceeds after a traffic stop on Interstate 35.
The money was ruled forfeited in district court in November 2022 and is now with the Ardmore Police Department and District Attorney’s office.
“When you have money in a false floor in an aftermarket compartment wrapped in electrical tape and bundles, and it's almost $400,000 in cash, that's an indicator that this is not proceeds from any kind of legitimate business endeavor; it is exactly what drug traffickers typically do,” said Carter County District Attorney Craig Ladd.
That is what Ardmore police found in Jorge Flores’ car after obtaining a search warrant.
"They usually use the electrical tape to block the detection of drug dogs," Ladd explained. "This guy could also be tied to drug cartels in Mexico; he had a history of drug trafficking, so all of those established in our minds by proponents of the evidence that he was guilty of drug trafficking and these are drug proceeds."
A forfeiture petition was filed for the State of Oklahoma.
“In a lot of instances, they are like, ‘We really can’t give you a good reason why we have this much money in a false floor in an aftermarket compartment,’” Ladd explained. “So sometimes if they don’t file an answer after we file our initial forfeiture petition, then we win by default judgment if we can prove to the judge that this was drug money based on evidence.”
Ladd said if there is an alternative source of where the money came from other than violating drug laws, the petition would be dismissed and the money returned.
“They confessed that they could not dispute efficiently that it was drug money, so at the end of the day, the $367,000 was forfeited to the State of Oklahoma,” Ladd said.
Seventy-five percent of the forfeited money went to Ardmore police and the remaining 25 percent to the DA’s office.
"We get to use, in this case, hundreds of thousands specifically related to drug interdiction, technology, training personnel,” said Ardmore police Chief Cameron Arthur. "Technology and things for the next budget year that we may not have been able to afford, but now we can because of the substantial interdiction we've had and several others. So we will reinvest it into the interdiction units we use."
The DA’s office plans to use the funding for narcotics law enforcement staff.
“The only stipulation is that we have to use it on the war on drugs or to help fund our efforts to enforce narcotics laws,” Ladd explained. “A significant amount of cases we prosecute retain to Title 63, which is drug offenses; it’ll be used to supplement salaries for people who deal with those crimes.”