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United States v. 144,774 Pounds of Blue King Crab

Citation: 35 ELR 20113
No. No. 03-36006, (9th Cir., 06/09/2005)

The court held that an importer of King crab may not assert the "innocent owner defense" in forfeiture proceedings. Under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. §983, the innocent owner defense cannot be asserted when the property to be forfeited is "contraband or other property that it is illegal to possess." Here, the government alleged that the crab had been taken, possessed, transported, and sold in violation of the fishing and resource protection laws of the Russian Federation. Thus, the crab at issue was imported, received, or acquired in violation of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §3372(a), and it constitutes "property that it is illegal to possess."