Few forfeitures occur on the interstate

By Steve Wilson
October 3, 2019

According to a data analysis by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, the vast majority of forfeitures by law enforcement are not from traffic stops on the interstates. 

Data from two-plus years of the state’s forfeiture database show that 35 out of 292 forfeitures from counties along an interstate route (11.9 percent) were from traffic stops along interstates.

Of the 590 forfeitures since the database went online two years ago, 48.3 percent of them came from counties with an interstate.

We analyzed forfeiture entries from the database from the counties along the three interstates. Most mentioned whether the seizure was from a traffic stop and the general location, but with much of the relevant data missing. 

The law requires law enforcement agencies to report the value of the seizure and the date, but doesn’t mandate the exact location, direction of travel by the property owners, amount of drugs (if any) seized and whether any charges were filed against the property owners.

Information on contraband seized at these interstate stops is minimal, as only three of the entries in the database have exact quantities and type of drugs. Fifteen mentioned the presence of illegal drugs without providing the quantity or even type of contraband. Seventeen had no mention of drugs and two of these seizures, both in Rankin County, were of hidden, sealed bags of cash. 

According to the database, only 25 out of the 100 forfeitures from counties along the route of Interstate 20 originated from traffic stops along the interstate.

The numbers for Interstate 55 are even more revealing, as only eight out of 159 forfeitures from the counties along I-55 originated from traffic stops on the interstate. 

The same story was on Interstate 59, where only two out of 33 forfeitures were from traffic stops on the interstate.

Despite the low number of seizures, most are lucrative, averaging $67,261 per forfeiture. On I-20, the average stop netted $64,821, while I-55 stops were worth only $18,579 per forfeiture.

No busts along I-20’s 154.5 mile route occurred in Warren, Newton or Lauderdale counties. All of the interstate forfeitures occurred in Hinds (four out of 52 forfeitures), Rankin (13 out of 27) and Scott counties (eight out of 17).

As for I-55, eight of the counties — Lincoln, Copiah, Yazoo, Holmes, Yalobusha, Montgomery, Grenada and Tate — along the 290-mile route in Mississippi reported no forfeitures from interstate traffic stops.

All of the I-55 forfeitures occurred in Pike (three out of 19 forfeitures), Panola (one of nine) and DeSoto counties (three of 112).

Only Jasper and Lamar counties recorded seizures in the 171 miles of the I-59 corridor.


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