When it comes to contributing money to the province’s criminal property forfeiture fund, Thompson appears to lead the way in Northern Manitoba.
A pair of public notices of property up for forfeiture available on the provincial government’s website – one with a deadline date of Jan. 14 and the other with a March 25 deadline – had 15 property seizures in Thompson between them, compared to only one each from Flin Flon, Shamattawa and Norway House and a pair from in or near The Pas.
Collectively, those 15 seizures in Thompson had a value of just over $45,000, with individual values ranging from a low of $110 to a high of $18,181. Eight of the property seizures on these lists had values below $1,000 while seven were worth more than a grand, with the other six above $1,000 clocking in at $1,700, $2,085, $6.050, $6,560 and $7,065.
The one seizure from Flin Flon on these two lists was for $846.25, while the one from Shamattawa was for $476. Property worth $5,890 was seized in Norway House’s one appearance on the list, while property seized in or near The Pas was worth $1,470.50.
Some of the property seizures correspond with drug busts publicized by the RCMP in press releases.
The seizure in Flin Flon took place Jan. 13, the same day Flin Flon RCMP stopped to speak with two men in a parking lot and saw that one of them had what appeared to be a can of bear spray in his jacket. A subsequent search of the man and his vehicle led to the discovery of 32 grams of cocaine, a large-capacity rifle magazine, cash and drug paraphernalia.
The seizure of nearly $6,000 worth of property in Norway House came Nov. 20, when Norway House RCMP made three busts over two days, including one at a residence where they found 113 grams of cocaine, crack cocaine and cash.
Two seizures in Thompson Nov. 12 netted $6,560 worth of property from a Pipe Road residence and property valued at $280 from a residence on Caribou Road. That was the same day that Thompson RCMP seized nearly a kilo of cocaine from a Caribou Road residence, along with an SKS high-powered rifle, ammunition and a crossbow and arrows. A second search on Pipe Road two hours later turned up 478 grams of cocaine, money and drug paraphernalia.
Property worth $1,700 was seized from a Char Bay residence Oct. 22, the same day that Thompson RCMP executed a search warrant in Westwood that resulted in the seizure of suspected mining explosives, cocaine and 14 firearms, one of which was loaded.
A Sept. 20 seizure of $11,655 corresponds with a Lundar RCMP bust of a speeding northbound driver on Highway 6 who was found to be transporting 2,000 grams of marijuana in his vehicle.
Criminal property forfeiture is a civil court process through which the provincial government can apply to confiscate property or proceeds of unlawful activity, as well as property suspected to have been used in the commission of crimes. It is separate from the criminal justice system and seizures are initiated against property, rather than people. Having property seized does not give anyone a criminal record or create findings of guilt or innocence. Property valued at less than $75,000 can be seized without involving the courts. People whose property is being seized receive letters informing them of the proposed forfeiture and can file a notice of dispute. If a dispute notice is filed, the government has 60 days to begin a civil forfeiture action in court or to discontinue the proposed seizure. If no notice of dispute is filed the property can be seized without further notice.
Since the Criminal Property Forfeiture Act was made law in 2009, $2.7 million of seized property has gone to individual crime victims and the Victims’ Assistance Fund and nearly $6 million has gone to law enforcement agencies. Property with little or no commercial value such as light bulbs, timers and fans care donated to community greenhouses, schools and other organizations. About $80,000 worth of this property has been donated in the last six years.