Criticism Grows Over Caddo Co. DA Sharing Drug Proceeds With Private Company

Tuesday, July 23rd 2013, 6:43 pm
By: News 9

New details emerge surrounding a controversial drug seizure program. Criticism is growing over a local district attorney's decision to share drug proceeds with a private company.

7/19/2013 Related Story: Use Of Seized Drug Funds Sparks Controversy In Grady County

News 9 first reported the DA dismissed some of the cases pending further review of the program last week.

Caddo County District Attorney Jason Hicks maintains he is proud of the program and touts its success in pulling more than $ 1.3 million in drugs and drug money off the highway, specifically I-40 near Hinton.

Still, drug busts on the highway in Caddo County have stopped while District Attorney Jason Hicks reviews the recently scrutinized program.

For the last seven months, Hicks has paired his investigators with instructors from Desert Snow, a private company specializing in law enforcement training.

"I think it is fair and I think the training that we have gotten is absolutely the best training we could have gotten under the circumstances," Hicks said in an interview last week.

Hicks also said the idea was to take the money away from drug traffickers and use it to help fund law enforcement. In exchange for the company's training it receives 25 percent of the money seized.

Now, Hicks is reviewing the 24 criminal cases associated with the drug interdiction program, 13 have been dismissed.

Hicks is also looking at 25 civil cases and plans to dismiss six of those case. He said up to $40,000 could be returned.

In a phone interview with Julius Crooks of California, Crooks said he hopes his case one of the dismissed.

"I've never been to jail and I have never been in trouble," Crooks said.

Crooks did not get arrested during a traffic stop in January. He claims Caddo County investigator Lewis Garrison did not find any drugs in his car but seized more than $7900 of his money.

"He was trying to make it like I was a malicious drug dealer that transfers from state to state with guns and drugs and I'm nothing like that. I have never ever had any drug cases," Crooks said.

We're told Crook's case is being looked at by the Attorney General's Office after Crooks complained some of his money seized is now missing.

Hicks is surprised by the allegation and says he stands behind the program. When a review of the program is complete, Hicks says the dismissed cases could be re-filed.

The District's contract with Desert Snow goes through the end of the year so operations could resume after the district attorney's review. Desert Snow has not returned calls to News 9.