The Attorney General’s Office today announced that the South Dakota Highway Patrol will get a new drug dog.
A trained drug dog doesn’t come cheap - this one will cost $8,500. The AG’s office also said this week it plans to hand over some cash for drug enforcement to three other agencies: the Belle Forche Police Department, Davison County Sheriff’s Office and the Custer County Sheriff’s Office.
Custer got $12,800 for digital cameras and camera kits. Belle Forche got $6,000 for guns. Davison County got $21,500 for video cameras.
Where does all this money come from?
Drug dealers, basically.
I’ve written plenty about asset forfeiture in the past, so we don’t need to go over every detail, but it works like this: if the cops suspect the money or property you have was derived from the sale of illegal narcotics, they can take that money or property before you’re convicted.
You can fight the seizure in court, but most people don’t.
The reason I’m bringing this up again has to do with a particularly tragic drug case we’ve been following for weeks now, the murder of Jordan LeBeau.
Police say the 20-year-old was shot and killed in his home by two Watertown teens who’d hoped to steal $100,000 in cash.
For weeks, we didn’t know how much money was in the house on North Alaska Avenue. We found out when police filed a search warrant for the home of LeBeau’s girlfriend, Faith Rasmussen. In it, detectives said that $88,381.49 in cash, along with marijuana and pills, was found at the scene of the murder. The cops suspect that LeBeau was selling pot for Rasmussen.
This week, the Attorney General’s Office filed a civil claim against that cash, explaining that the money was found alongside pot, multiple pills bottles, a pill splitter and a handful of other pieces of drug paraphernalia. All of the cash - aside from $500 in an envelope - was found in his bedroom.
LeBeau’s father and the representative of the young man’s estate each signed off on the seizure.
The Watertown teens thought they’d get a cut of the cash. Instead, the state gets the money, and some lucky police department will reap the rewards.
Here’s a copy of the civil suit.