39 CFR 233.8 - Expedited forfeiture proceedings for property seizures based on violations involving the possession of personal use quantities of a controlled substance.
(a)Purpose and scope.
(1) The following definitions, regulations, and criteria are designed to establish and implement procedures required by section 6079 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Public Law 100-690, 102 Stat. 4181. They are intended to supplement existing law and procedures relative to the forfeiture of property under the identified statutory authority. These regulations do not affect the existing legal and equitable rights and remedies of those with an interest in property seized for forfeiture, nor do these provisions relieve interested parties from their existing obligations and responsibilities in pursuing their interests through such courses of action. These regulations are intended to reflect the intent of Congress to minimize the adverse impact on those entitled to legal or equitable relief occasioned by the prolonged detention of property subject to forfeiture due to violations of law involving personal use quantities of controlled substances. The definition of personal use quantities of a controlled substance as contained herein is intended to distinguish between those small quantities, which are generally considered to be possessed for personal consumption and not for further distribution, and those larger quantities generally considered to be subject to further distribution.
(2) In this regard, for violations involving the possession of personal use quantities of a controlled substance, section 6079(b)(2) requires either that administrative forfeiture be completed within 21 days of the seizure of the property, or alternatively, that procedures are established that provide a means by which an individual entitled to relief may initiate an expedited administrative review of the legal and factual basis of the seizure for forfeiture. Should an individual request relief pursuant to these regulations and be entitled to the return of the seized property, such property shall be returned immediately following that determination, but not later than 20 days after filing of a petition for expedited release by an owner, and the administrative forfeiture process shall cease. Should the individual not be entitled to the return of the seized property, however, the administrative forfeiture of that property shall proceed. The owner may, in any event, obtain release of property pending the administrative forfeiture by submitting to the agency making the determination property sufficient to preserve the Government's vested interest for purposes of the administrative forfeiture.
(b)Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings specified:
(1)Commercial fishing industry vessel means a vessel that:
(i) Commercially engages in the catching, taking, or harvesting of fish or an activity that can reasonably be expected to result in the catching, taking, or harvesting of fish;
(ii) Commercially prepares fish or fish products other than by gutting, decapitating, gilling, skinning, shucking, icing, freezing, or brine chilling; or
(iii) Commercially supplies, stores, refrigerates, or transports fish, fish products, or materials directly related to fishing or the preparation of fish to or from a fishing, fish processing, or fish tender vessel or fish processing facility.
(2)Controlled substance has the meaning given in 21 U.S.C. 802(6).
(3)Normal and customary manner means that inquiry suggested by particular facts and circumstances that would customarily be undertaken by a reasonably prudent individual in a like or similar situation. Actual knowledge of such facts and circumstances is unnecessary, and implied, imputed, or constructive knowledge is sufficient. An established norm, standard, or custom is persuasive but not conclusive or controlling in determining whether an owner acted in a normal and customary manner to ascertain how property would be used by another legally in possession of the property. The failure to act in a normal and customary manner as defined herein will result in the denial of a petition for expedited release of the property and is intended to have the desirable effect of inducing owners of the property to exercise greater care in transferring possession of their property.
(4)Owner means one having a legal and possessory interest in the property seized for forfeiture. Even though one may hold primary and direct title to the property seized, such person may not have sufficient actual beneficial interest in the property to support a petition as owner if the facts indicate that another person had dominion and control over the property.
(5)Personal use quantities means those amounts of controlled substances in possession in circumstances where there is no other evidence of an intent to distribute, or to facilitate the manufacturing, compounding, processing, delivering, importing, or exporting of any controlled substance.
(i) Evidence that possession of quantities of a controlled substance is for other than personal use may include, for example:
(A) Evidence, such as drug scales, drug distribution paraphernalia, drug records, drug packaging material, method of drug packaging, drug “cutting” agents and other equipment, that indicates an intent to process, package, or distribute a controlled substance;
(B) Information from reliable sources indicating possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute;
(C) The arrest or conviction record of the person or persons in actual or constructive possession of the controlled substance for offenses under Federal, state, or local law that indicates an intent to distribute a controlled substance;
(D) Circumstances or reliable information indicating that the controlled substance is related to large amounts of cash or any amount of prerecorded Government funds;
(E) Circumstances or reliable information indicating that the controlled substance is a sample intended for distribution in anticipation of a transaction involving large quantities, or is part of a larger delivery;
(F) Statements by the possessor, or otherwise attributable to the possessor, including statements of conspirators, that indicate possession with intent to distribute; or
(G) The fact that the controlled substance was recovered from sweepings.
(ii) Possession of a controlled substance shall be presumed to be for personal use when there are no indicia of illicit drug trafficking or distribution - such as, but not limited to, the factors listed above - and the amounts do not exceed the following quantities:
(A) One gram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin;
(B) One gram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of the following:
(1) Coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivations of ecgonine or their salts have been removed;
(2) Cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers;
(3) Ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or
(4) Any compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in (ii)(B)(1) through (ii)(B)(3) of this definition;
(C) One-tenth gram of a mixture or substance described in (ii)(B) of this definition that contains cocaine base;
(D) One-tenth gram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of phencyclidine (PCP);
(E) Five hundred micrograms of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD);
(F) One ounce of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana;
(G) One gram of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, and salts of its isomers, or one gram of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, its salts, isomers, or salts of its isomers.
(iii) The possession of a narcotic, a depressant, a stimulant, a hallucinogen or a cannabis-controlled substance will be considered in excess of personal use quantities if the dosage unit amount possessed provides the same or greater equivalent efficacy as described in (ii)(B) of this definition.
(7)Seizing agency means the Federal agency that has seized the property or adopted the seizure of another agency and has the responsibility for administratively forfeiting the property;
(8)Statutory rights or defenses to the forfeiture means all legal and equitable rights and remedies available to a claimant of property seized for forfeiture.
(c)Petition for expedited release in an administrative forfeiture proceeding.
(1) Where property is seized for administrative forfeiture involving controlled substances in personal use quantities, the owner may petition the Postal Inspection Service for expedited release of the property.
(2) Where property described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section is a commercial fishing industry vessel proceeding to or from a fishing area or intermediate port of call or actually engaged in fishing operations, which would be subject to seizure for administrative forfeiture for a violation of law involving controlled substances in personal use quantities, a summons to appear shall be issued in lieu of a physical seizure. The vessel shall report to the port designated in the summons. The Postal Inspection Service shall be authorized to effect administrative forfeiture as if the vessel had been physically seized. Upon answering the summons to appear on or prior to the last reporting date specified in the summons, the owner of the vessel may file a petition for expedited release pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) of this section, and the provisions of paragraph (c)(1) and other provisions in this section pertaining to a petition for expedited release shall apply as if the vessel had been physically seized.
(3) The owner filing the petition for expedited release shall establish the following:
(i) The owner has a valid, good faith interest in the seized property as owner or otherwise;
(ii) The owner reasonably attempted to ascertain the use of the property in a normal and customary manner; and
(iii) The owner did not know of or consent to the illegal use of the property, or in the event that the owner knew or should have known of the illegal use, the owner did what reasonably could be expected to prevent the violation.
(4) In addition to those factors listed in paragraph (c)(3) of this section, if an owner can demonstrate that the owner has other statutory rights or defenses that would cause the owner to prevail on the issue of forfeiture, such factors shall also be considered in ruling on the petition for expedited release.
(5) A petition for expedited release must be received by the Postal Inspection Service within 20 days from the date of the first publication of the notice of seizure in ordered to be considered by the Postal Inspection Service. The petition must be executed and sworn to by the owner, and both the envelope and the request must be clearly marked “PETITION FOR EXPEDITED RELEASE.” Such petition shall be filed with the appropriate office or official identified in the personal written notice and the publication notice.
(6) The petition shall include the following:
(i) A complete description of the property, including identification numbers, if any, and the date and place of seizure;
(ii) The petitioner's interest in the property, which shall be supported by title documentation, bills of sale, contracts, mortgages, or other satisfactory documentary evidence; and
(iii) A statement of the facts and circumstances, to be established by satisfactory proof, relied upon by the petitioner to justify expedited release of the seized property.
(d)Ruling on petition for expedited release in an administrative forfeiture proceeding.
(1) If a final administrative determination of the case, without regard to the provisions of this section, is made within 21 days of the seizure, the Postal Inspection Service need take no further action under this section on a petition for expedited release received pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.
(2) If no such final administrative determination is made within 21 days of the seizure, the following procedure shall apply. The Postal Inspection Service shall, within 20 days after the receipt of the petition for expedited release, determine whether the petition filed by the owner has established the factors listed in paragraph (c)(3) of this section and:
(i) If the Postal Inspection Service determines that those factors have been established, it shall terminate the administrative proceedings and return the property to the owner (or in the case of a commercial fishing industry vessel for which a summons has been issued shall dismiss the summons), except where it is evidence of a violation of law; or
(ii) If the Postal Inspection Service determines that those factors have not been established, the agency shall proceed with the administrative forfeiture.
(e)Posting of substitute monetary amount in an administrative forfeiture proceeding.
(1) Where property is seized for administrative forfeiture involving controlled substances in personal use quantities, the owner may obtain release of the property by posting a substitute monetary amount with the Postal Inspection Service to be held subject to forfeiture proceedings in place of the seized property to be released. The property will be released to the owner upon the payment of an amount equal to the Government-appraised value of the property if the property is not evidence of a violation of law and has no design or other characteristics that particularly suit it for use in illegal activities. This payment must be in the form of a traveler's check, a money order, a cashier's check, or an irrevocable letter of credit made payable to the Postal Inspection Service. A bond in the form of a cashier's check will be considered as paid once the check has been accepted for payment by the financial institution that issued the check.
(2) If a substitute monetary amount is posted and the property is administratively forfeited, the Postal Inspection Service will forfeit the substitute amount in lieu of the property.
(f)Notice provisions. At the time of seizure of property defined in paragraph (b)(6) of this section for violations involving the possession of personal use quantities of a controlled substance, the Postal Inspection Service must provide written notice to the possessor of the property specifying the procedures for filing of a petition for expedited release and for the posting of a substitute monetary bond as set forth in section 6079 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and implementing regulations.