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Another border bust benefits sheriff¹s office

| March 2, 2004 11:00 PM

Sheriff Daryl Anderson is anticipating an influx of more than $100,000 for his office following the seizure of $130,000 in cash from a suspected marijuana smuggling operation along the Canadian border.

Officers from the Lincoln County Sheriff¹s Office, the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Forest Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police responded to the Grubstake area of the Yaak on Dec. 8 after receiving information indicating that a possible smuggling operation was taking place. Officers made contact with a 39-year-old New Mexico man who was suspected of having made contact with smugglers crossing the border.

A border patrol dog alerted on the man¹s vehicle, leading to the discovery and seizure of three bundles of U.S. currency later counted out to be $130,000.

³He was waiting up there for somebody to come down and pick up the money is what we believe,² said Detective Jim Sweet.

Using snowmobiles, a sheriff¹s detective and a border patrol agent searched for the suspected smugglers but found the border to be impassable due to the snow.

An ensuing investigation led U.S. Customs agents to the Portland, Ore., area, where at least one other arrest was made and more cash and drugs were seized.

The sheriff¹s office is eligible to receive 80 percent, or $104,000, for its participation in the investigation. An application has been sent to U.S. Customs, and the process could take up to a year before funds are given to the sheriff¹s office, Anderson said.

Once awarded, the funds can be used for training and equipment but not for salaries, Anderson said. In the past the sheriff¹s office has used its share of seized assets to upgrade computer systems and replace aging patrol vehicles.