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Sharing the Wealth: Cops Will Split Seized Drug Money With Other Agencies

Trustees gave Police Chief Mark Turvey the OK to share drug forfeiture assets with four area police departments.

It sounds like something out of an action thriller: acting on a tip from a government agency, police track down drug smugglers and seize a stash of dirty money.

But that’s exactly what happened in December 2008, when got a call from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Bureau of the Department of Homeland Security.

On Wednesday, village trustees gave cops the OK to split $691,000 in seized money with four other departments that helped nab the bad guys.

“We received a tip from the Department of Homeland Security … advising us possibly that some drug couriers had landed at ,” Chief Mark Turvey told the board.

Police used the K-9 unit to sniff out whether narcotics had been on the plane that brought the suspects to Romeoville. When police dogs signaled the presence of drugs, Turvey said, police tracked down a vehicle believed to be carrying the suspects and arrested two men, who were charged with money laundering.

More than $100,000 in cash was discovered in the vehicle, Turvey said. Almost another million dollars was found in a hotel room used by the suspects. Police seized a total of $1,063,190.

Under Illinois law, Turvey said, Romeoville police received a 65 percent share of drug forfeiture money. Now they want to split it with area agencies that assisted with the arrests and seizure.

“We would like to share $45,000 each with four different departments,” Turvey said. Trustees gave the OK to split the money with the , East Hazel Crest, Waukegan and Palos Heights police departments.

That would leave Romeoville with $511,000.

“Before you get too excited, (the money) can’t be used for normal operations,” Village Administrator Steve Gulden told the board. Drug forfeiture assets can be used only for drug enforcement.

“There’s always a catch,” Gulden joked, adding the money could be used to purchase additional squad cars or to help fund the K-9 unit.

 Fish barrier study

Trustees on Wednesday also granted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a right of entry to access property around the 135th Street bridge in order to determine whether an electronic fish barrier is damaging the bridge.

The barrier was installed to keep invasive species, particularly Asian carp, from leaving the I&M Canal and entering Lake Michigan.

“We would really like them to find out if they’re breaking our bridge,” Mayor John Noak said.

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