United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Morris United States District Court Judge
United States of America brought this action to forfeit $53,
743.00 in United States currency. The currency was seized
during a traffic stop on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.
The Government alleges that the currency is subject to
forfeiture under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6), because it
“was furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange
for a controlled substance” or was “used or
intended to be used to facilitate one or more violations of
21 U.S.C. § 841, et seq.” (Doc. 1 at 13).
before the Court is Claimant Vanessa Camper's
(Camper's) motion to dismiss. Camper seeks an order to
dismiss the Government's Verified Complaint under Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). The Court conducted a
hearing on the motion on November 13, 2017.
Government's Verified Complaint alleges that Fort Belknap
Tribal Law Enforcement Officer Lex Helgeson initiated a
traffic stop of a 1979 Cadillac on July 29, 2016, on the Fort
Belknap Indian Reservation. Officer Helgeson stopped the
Cadillac for speeding. The Cadillac had a North Dakota
temporary license plate. The Cadillac was occupied by four
individuals. Torrell Camper was the driver. Torrell had a
suspended Washington State driver's license at the time
of the traffic stop. Camper was a passenger. Camper is
County Deputy Sheriff Chris Adair assisted on the traffic
stop. Deputy Adair conducted a search of the Cadillac with
Torrell's permission. Deputy Adair discovered a locked
backpack and two locked duffel bags in the trunk of the
Cadillac. The locked backpack contained a set of brass
knuckles, $53, 743.00 in United States currency, and a pill
bottle with one gram of marijuana. The cash was in small
denominations. The cash was bundled in $1, 000 increments
with rubber bands.
the duffel bags contained four firearms and multiple cans of
ammunition. The four firearms included a loaded AR-15 style
semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle, a loaded .40 caliber
semi-automatic pistol, a .44 caliber pistol with two loaded
speed loaders, and a loaded 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The
second duffel bag contained two bottles of prescription
liquid oxycodone that had been prescribed to a person who was
not an occupant of the Cadillac.
Adair found two cell phones in the Cadillac. Torrell
consented to a search of the cell phones. The cell phones
contained numerous text messages. Some of the text messages
appeared to relate to illegal drug activity. The cell phones
also contained photographs of Torrell with currency and a
significant quantity of pharmaceutical tablets. The
pharmaceutical tablets appeared to be 30 mg tablets of
Adair found three bank deposit slips in the Cadillac. The
deposit slips showed that Torrell had made three recent
deposits of $5, 000 in various banks in Minot, North Dakota.
Torrell had deposited cash in mixed denominations from $1
bills to $100 bills.
enforcement officers interviewed Torrell. Torrell told the
law enforcement officers that he made frequent trips from the
Seattle, Washington area to Minot, North Dakota to visit
friends. The friends included Curtis Wells. Further
investigation by the law enforcement officers revealed that
Mr. Wells was a known distributor of controlled substances in
North Dakota. Mr. Wells has a 2014 conviction in North Dakota
for the distribution of oxycodone and hydrocodone.
argues that the Government's Verified Complaint should be
dismissed because it fails to state a claim upon which relief
may be granted. Camper argues that the Complaint is defective
because it fails to show that the Government had
“probable cause to institute [the] forfeiture
action.” (Doc. 17 at 4). Camper argues that the
Complaint lacks probable cause because it fails to show how
the $53, 743.00 seized by the Government “related to an
illegal drug transaction.” Id.
Government argues that Camper's motion to dismiss should
be denied because it is not required to make a showing of
probable cause at the pleading stage of a civil forfeiture
action. The Government argues that its ...