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Drug Bust Profitable for Police Agencies : 3 Cities Share $961,000, Part of Which Was Seized at Disneyland

Times Staff Writer

The Torrance Police Department, which has aggressively tracked major drug dealers from its city to other places such as Monrovia and Disneyland, saw that diligence pay off Monday--in cash.

U.S. Atty. Gen. Dick Thornburgh presented the department with a check for $792,000 as part of a federal program that shares seized drug assets with local departments that assist in federal drug investigations.

The funds represent most of $1.1 million in drug money that Torrance police helped seize during a six-month drug trafficking and money-laundering investigation in 1986 that led officers to Monrovia, Redondo Beach and Disneyland.

In a press conference at Torrance police headquarters, Thornburgh also presented checks for $113,217 to the Los Angeles Police Department and $56,000 to the Redondo Beach Police Department for their efforts in the investigation.

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Since 1984, when Congress passed the Equitable Sharing Act, local police departments in California have received almost $120 million under the program--more than $2 million of which has gone to the Torrance Police Department.

“This is money that did not have to come from the taxpayer’s wallet,” Thornburgh said. “These are resources seized from traffickers which can be recycled for use by those who are fighting crime rather than to subsidize further illegal operations by drug syndicates.”

Back to Local Forces

In the last four years, federal, state and local agents had recovered more than $600 million in seized drug assets nationwide, $200 million of which has been “plowed back into state and local efforts against drugs,” Thornburgh said at a meeting later Monday at a U.S. 9th Circuit Judicial Conference in Laguna Nigel.

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Torrance police had taken the lead role in the investigation of Jairo Hincapie, a Colombian national who police believe played a vital role in trafficking drugs from Colombia into Southern California.

Police said Hincapie was involved in the major drug operation that was later uncovered by Operation Pisces, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s massive two-year undercover effort to crack down on drug trade from Colombia to the United States.

During the investigation, Hincapie was followed to Disneyland, where he made a cash transaction with other reputed drug traders, Torrance Police Lt. David Marsden said.

They also followed Hincapie to a house in Monrovia, where a subsequent search uncovered records that led police to $1.1 million held in bank security deposit boxes.

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Police believe Hincapie fled to Colombia before he could be arrested.

Last year, the Torrance department confiscated about 1,700 pounds of cocaine, worth about $1.7 million, officers said. During the first three months of 1989, the department has already matched that amount.


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