The Office of the District Attorney’s Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) prosecutes major narcotic traffickers and illegal drug manufacturers. The cases involving smaller amounts for sale and possession are handled by the general felony unit in the Office. In sales, transportation, possession for sale, and manufacturing cases, NET also pursues (related) assets for forfeiture. NET prosecutors and investigators participate in various task forces targeted at prosecuting those individuals and groups involved with the manufacturing and sales of illegal drugs.
Unfortunately, manufacturing these illicit poisonous substances often hurt children. The team also supports the County’s Drug Endangered Children program. Innocent children are sometimes found in homes and other environments (hotels, automobiles, homes, etc.) where methamphetamine and other illegal substances are produced. Around the country, Drug Endangered Children (DEC) programs have been developed to coordinate the efforts of law enforcement, medical services, and child welfare workers to ensure that children found in these environments receive appropriate attention and care.
Children who live at or visit drug-production sites or are present during drug production face a variety of health and safety risks, including:
· inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of toxic chemicals, drugs, or contaminated foods that may result in nausea, chest pain, eye and tissue irritation, chemical burns, and death;
· fires and explosions;
· abuse and neglect; and
· hazardous lifestyle (presence of booby traps, firearms, code violations, poor ventilation).
Children found in these conditions frequently test positive for the presence of controlled substances in their blood.
The NET Unit also handles the forfeiture of assets utilized in drug sales, manufacturing, and transportation cases.
Forfeiture is the uncompensated taking of property that has been illegally used or obtained. The purpose of California’s asset forfeiture statutes (Health & Safety Code 11469 et seq.) enables the government to strip drug dealers of their operating tools and economic base.
In order to seize and forfeit property, the property must be either contraband, property exchanged for narcotics, proceeds traceable to a narcotics violation, or property which facilitates the drug trade. Assets can take the form of controlled substances, manufacturing materials, containers, records, real property, or conveyances (such as vehicles, boats, or airplanes).
Any person who claims an interest in the seized property has the right to a jury trial. To prevail, the District Attorney must prove the property is subject to forfeiture beyond a reasonable doubt.
At the District Attorney’s Office, our number one concern is to ensure that all asset forfeiture proceedings are conducted in a lawful and ethical manner. Every effort is made to protect innocent owners from seizure and forfeiture.