Program to Seize Drug Assets Beefed Up

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors has beefed up a local law enforcement program that seizes homes and other assets of suspected drug dealers.

The board voted Tuesday to give the Ventura County district attorney's office $219,200 this year to augment its asset forfeiture program, which operates under a state law that allows local agencies to keep up to 76.5% of the assets seized from drug traffickers.

The district attorney's office will use the money to hire four additional employees plus two vehicles and mobile car radios. The employees will include two investigators who will work on surveillance, research, search warrants, seizure orders, assessment of financial worth, follow-up investigations and trial preparations.

Dist. Atty. Michael D. Bradbury anticipates that the program--which is expected to cost $345,000 annually after its first year--eventually will pay for itself, in addition to generating revenue that could be used for narcotics education and awareness programs.

Bradbury estimated that the asset forfeiture program could generate up to $350,000 in annual revenues. In 1988, the district attorney's share in the asset forfeiture program was $88,000.

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