Las Cruces Area Drug Task Force Sued

Las Cruces – Three people are suing a drug task force, seeking the return of money seized in connection with 2009 drug arrests in southern New Mexico.

Erica Silva Lopez, Eulalio Valentine Chavez and Michael Novak are suing Las Cruces, Dona Ana County and a drug task force in which both governments participate.

The three allege money was either improperly seized in the first place or was not returned once charges were dropped.

Dona Ana County spokesman Jess Williams and the city's interim attorney Harry Connelly declined to comment.

The trio's attorney, Joseph Kennedy of Albuquerque, says state law requires a conviction for someone to forfeit money believed used in drug deals.

Lopez was never charged and cases against Novak and Chavez were dismissed.

The money totals about $7,600.


Information from: Las Cruces Sun-News,

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.