United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. SPAULDING UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT:
cause came on for consideration without oral argument on the
following motion filed herein:
UNITED STATES' MOTION FOR DEFAULT JUDGMENT OF FORFEITURE
(Doc. No. 14)
February 20, 2018
November 28, 2017, the United States filed its Verified
Complaint for Forfeiture In Rem against
Approximately $64, 470 (“Defendant Funds”). Doc.
No. 1. In the complaint, the United States alleges that the
Defendant Funds were seized in May 2017 from Richard Thomas
Jaquez and his backpack. Agents of the Drug Enforcement
Agency (“DEA”) took custody of the Defendant
Funds, and they remain in the custody of the United States.
Id. ¶ 5.
Court issued a warrant of arrest in rem on November
29, 2017. Doc. No. 6. Thereafter, the United States complied
with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Supplemental Rule
G(4)(a)(i)-(iv) by posting a notice of this civil forfeiture
action on its official website, www.forfeiture.gov,
for a period of 30 consecutive days. Doc. No. 10. It also
complied with Supplemental Rule G(4)(b) by sending notice of
this civil forfeiture action to the only potential claimant,
Mr. Jaquez, by certified and first class U.S. Mail on
December 1, 2017. Doc. No. 11-1 ¶¶
The notice stated that Jaquez was required to file a verified
claim within 35 days after the date of the notice-that is, by
January 5, 2018. Doc. No. 11-2. That deadline passed, and
Jaquez did not file a claim or answer. Accordingly, following
a motion by the United States, the Clerk entered a default
against Mr. Jaquez. Doc. Nos. 11-13.
United States now seeks the entry of a default judgment of
forfeiture that forfeits to the United States all right,
title, and interest in the Defendant Funds, which shall vest
clear title to the Defendant Funds in the United States of
America. Doc. No. 14. Mr. Jaquez has not filed a response to
the motion, and the time for doing so has passed.
Accordingly, the motion is ripe for decision.
ALLEGATIONS OF THE VERIFIED COMPLAINT.
2017, Mr. Jaquez was a resident of Oxnard, California, which
is approximately 60 miles west of Los Angeles. Doc. No. 1
¶ 9. On January 18, 2017, a law enforcement officer
stopped Mr. Jaquez for a traffic infraction in Texas.
Id. ¶ 10. At the time of the stop, Mr. Jaquez
was driving a rental vehicle and heading east on Interstate
40 (“I-40”). Id. The officer found a
duffel bag containing approximately 25 pounds of marijuana in
Mr. Jaquez's vehicle. Id.
a major east-west interstate highway running through the
south-central portion of the United States. Id.
¶ 11. If one were to travel from Oxnard to Orlando, I-40
would be a logical route. Id. California is a known
source for marijuana. Id. ¶ 27. It is common
for marijuana traffickers to transport marijuana from
California to Florida in vehicles. Id. The
traffickers often then fly back to California with the
trafficking proceeds. As a result, traffickers often purchase
one-way airline tickets. Id.
3, 2017, Mr. Jaquez was at the Orlando International Airport.
Id. ¶ 13. Five days earlier, he booked a
one-way flight from Orlando to Los Angeles. Id.
After he went through security screening, two law enforcement
officers approached Mr. Jaquez to inquire about his travel.
Id. ¶ 14. He told them he was in Orlando
visiting family. Id. ¶ 15. When asked if he was
carrying any contraband or currency, Mr. Jaquez responded
that he had no contraband, but was traveling with $50, 000 in
cash. Id. ¶ 16. One of the law enforcement
officers asked if he could verify the amount. Id.
¶ 17. Mr. Jaquez then opened his backpack and handed the
officers two Crown Royal cloth bags. Id. One of the
bags contained three bundles of currency wrapped in rubber
bands. Id. ¶ 18. The other bag contained three
bank envelopes of currency. Id. ¶19. After
examining the currency, an officer asked if he could search
Mr. Jaquez's backpack. Id. ¶ 20. Mr. Jaquez
did not consent and stated that he did not wish to answer any
more questions about the money. Id.
who handle controlled substances often get traces of the
substances on their hands and clothing. Id. ¶
22. These trace amounts can easily be spread to other items
the individual touches, such as currency. Id. A
positive alert to U.S. currency by a properly trained dog
indicates that the currency has either been handled by
someone who had trace amounts of a controlled ...