United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
MALCOLM F. MARSH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the United States of America, brings this civil forfeiture
proceeding seeking the forfeiture of the Defendant in
rem $23, 400 in U.S. Currency. On October 30, 2014,
Claimant Cesar Cruz-Reyes filed a Claim and Answer asserting
that he is the owner of the currency. Claim (ECF No. 5);
Answer (ECF No. 6). Currently before the Court is Plaintiffs
Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 21). Claimant did not
file an opposition to the Motion. For the reasons set forth
below, this Court grants Plaintiffs Motion.
circumstances of the seizure of the Defendant in rem
$23, 400 in U.S. Currency is set forth in the Declaration of
Jeremy Stinson, a Task Force Officer with the Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA). See Compl. (ECF
No. 1), Ex, A. In his Declaration, Stinson states that after
intercepting telephone communications between Juan
Orozco-Lopez and Ariel Salazar-Galindo suggesting drug
activity, he obtained a warrant to search
Salazar-Galindo's residence. Id., Ex. A at 4-18.
On March 19, 2014, members of the Clackamas County
Inter-Agency Task Force and the Portland DEA executed the
search warrant and seized, among other things, approximately
one-half pound of methamphetamine and $23, 400 in U.S.
Currency. Id. at 18-20.
to Stinson, Salazar-Galindo admitted to selling heroin and
methamphetamine. Id. at 19-20. However, both
Salazar-Galindo and his father Rosalino Salazar-Maceda (who
also was present in the residence at the time of the search)
stated that the $23, 400 found in the residence was a loan
from family friend Cesar Cruz-Reyes. Id. at 21.
Stinson summarized the evidence and the statements concerning
the alleged loan as follows:
45.....Ariel told me the money came from a $20, 000 loan his
father had received from a family friend named Cesar. Ariel
told me the money was intended to start a business, 46. After
I was finished speaking with Ariel I asked Rosalino
SALAZAR-MACEDA (Ariel's father) if he would be willing to
speak with me. Rosalino agreed .... I asked Rosalino about
the money we found in Ariel's room. Rosalino told me the
money came from a personal loan a friend had given him the
47. I asked Rosalino if he had spent any of the loan his
friend had given him[.] Rosalino told me he had spent some of
the money already to re-pay a family member money owed on
another loan, to make a payment on his black 2013 Nissan
Altima, and to re-pay a loan company who had previously
loaned him money. Rosalino estimated he had spent $10, 000 of
the $20, 000 his friend had loaned him.
48. Rosalino told me his son was holding onto the remaining
$10, 000 of the personal loan he had received from his
friend. Rosalino told me the loan he had received from his
friend was all in $100 denominations. I viewed the currency
seized from Ariel's bedroom, and noted much of it was in
$20 denominations an amount common in drug transactions.
53. On September 5, 2014, at about 1:3O p.m., I called
CRUZ-REYES by phone .... Mr, CRUZ-REYES told me he had loaned
the money to the family for a cleaning business. I asked Mr.
CRUZ-REYES how much he loaned the SALAZAR family and he
replied "$20, 000", then corrected himself and
slowly stated "$23, 400" as if he was reading the
number. Mr. CRUZ-REYES told me he gave the money to the
family in cash which he withdrew from his personal Key Bank
money market account....
56. Mr. CRUZ-REYES told me the SALAZAR family was supposed to
pay him back the money he loaned them starting six months
after he gave them the loan and in the amount of $500 a
59.....CRUZ-REYES told me the loan was an agreement between
himself and Ariel's father, though Ariel helped mediate
the deal because CRUZ-REYES does not speak Spanish and
Ariel's father, Rosalino Galindo-Salazar, does not speak
Id. at 21-25.
answers to Plaintiffs First Request for Special
Interrogatories, Claimant similarly stated that the $23, 400
was a "business loan for a HVAC and cleaning business,
" Mot. for Summ, J. (ECF No. 21), Att. 2 at 2. Claimant
explained that the loan was interest free and made ...