When drug dealers are convicted in Clark County, authorities don’t just take away their freedom, they take away all their assets.
In 2012, the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office and area law enforcement agencies seized $528,385.56 in assets and cash after drug convictions. Half of that money went to the agencies that made the arrests, with the rest going to the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.
They use that money to fight drug crimes, helping the sheriff’s office purchase its new K-9 officer. About 20 percent of the office’s take is used for drug prevention education programs, said Prosecutor Andy Wilson.
Much of a dealer’s assets are tied up in items they purchase with their drug proceeds, he said.
“Drug dealers typically have money, they’ve got cars and they’ve got electronics,” Wilson said. “If we can go into court and we can show they’re tied to the drug activity, then we can take it.”
Traditionally, items such as TVs, gaming systems and computers would be auctioned off and the money used for police or prosecutor programs. However, Wilson said they’ve begun taking those items and using them as incentives to get students involved in drug prevention programs.
Many of the items are used as raffle prizes for students who sign up for the Cole’s Warriors random drug testing program by taking the substance abuse pledge at their school. Test kits, fliers and pamphlets for the program are also bought using the proceeds from forfeited drug dealer items. The drug results are confidentially sent to the student’s parents and are not used to prosecute the student but rather to serve as a deterrent to them using drugs, Wilson said. In exchange, students get a chance to win a TV.
“I love it when we go to a high school and we have a kid who has signed up, basically subjected themselves to a random drug test … and we hand that kid a TV that used to be hanging in a drug dealer’s house,” Wilson said. “I can’t think of a better use of seized or forfeited contraband.”
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Clark County. The Clark County Combined Health District’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that while only 5 percent of Clark County high school students surveyed in 2011 admitted trying drugs such as crack or cocaine, that figure jumped to 19 percent when it came to prescription drugs and 11 percent for over-the-counter drugs for the purpose of getting high.
Stacks of TVs and Playstation 3 systems are lined up in a storage closet, some tagged for prospective schools while others are waiting for the next drug screening sign-up. Springfield, Kenton Ridge, Northeastern and Tecumseh high schools as well as the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center are already part of the Cole’s Warriors program. Founder Danielle Smoot said she hopes to expand into every Clark County district.
To find out how to get involved in the Cole’s Warriors program, visit http://coleswarriors.org.