SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Twenty people were arrested in a massive drug bust in Holyoke Thursday. In addition to heroin, police seized, money, guns, and cars. But what happens to that evidence after it is seized?
Hampden County Clerk of Courts Laura Gentile led 22News cameras into the seldom-filmed evidence vault at the Hampden County Hall of Justice Friday. The vault is secured by a steel reinforced door, and you are not allowed to go in alone.
Everything from doors with bullet holes to murder weapons is kept here until after trial. If a suspect is found guilty, a court will likely order their possessions forfeited.
Northwestern Assistant District Attorney Jeremy Bucci told 22News that drug money is divided up among law enforcement agencies, and put into a forfeiture account. That money is often spent to purchase drugs during undercover investigations, or for training to buy new police equipment.
As for seized vehicles, they are either auctioned or assigned to police for use in drug investigations.
Gentile told 22News that they have evidence in the vaults that dates back 30 years, and they are now in the process of logging it all into a digital database.
“We found over $100,000 that should have been returned years and years ago; money that had been ordered forfeited and for some reason never returned or never picked up. We returned it, and that is what prompted us to decide we need to go through everything,” Gentile said.
The Northwestern District Attorney’s Office put nearly $35,000 into their forfeiture account last year. That money gets reported to the Legislature every year.