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Nearly $1M in criminal cash seizures go to crime victims, law enforcement

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Two traffic stops by police near Headingley netted nearly $1 million for a fund dedicated to victims of crime and Manitoba law enforcement, Justice Minister Andrew Swan said Monday.

Swan, flanked by RCMP and Winnipeg police officials, was touting the latest court-approved major seizures of criminal cash under the province's criminal property forfeiture laws.

The $960,000 in seizures took place during traffic stops in 2003 and 2006. The money was being held by police until a Court of Queen's Bench forfeiture application was approved, which happened recently.

Swan said it's evidence that the province is "hostile territory" for the criminal element. "Unlawful activity is not welcome in Manitoba," Swan said.

The $735,000 that was seized by RCMP in one stop in 2003 was money from a drug-transaction that took place in Montreal. The $225,000 Winnipeg police seized in 2006 was found hidden in a truck bed liner, officials said.

In addition to funding victims' needs, law enforcement can apply to the forfeiture fund for grants to support training, operational and crime-prevention initiatives.

Since 2010, those grants have been used to fund police projects including: sonar equipment for the Winnipeg police dive team, new technology for the Internet Child Exploitation unit to stay ahead of child-abuse and child-pornography cases and also traffic-enforcement efforts by RCMP, said officials.

The Morden Police Service also obtained a vehicle for its dog unit through money from the fund.

More than $7.3 million in assets deemed to be proceeds of criminal activity have been ceded to the province since 2010.

RCMP D Division Assistant Commissioner Kevin Brosseau credited the criminal forfeiture program as a good example of how Manitoba Justice and police work together to fight crime.

"We are removing profit from criminal activity," he said.

Winnipeg police Deputy Chief Dave Thorne said money from the fund will continue to allow the WPS to pursue "evidence-led" policing efforts that can reduce officer workload and bolster community safety.

 

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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