News

$450K in seized assets from opium bust going to Mountain View police

Married couple was convicted of running huge opium operation following raid on home in 2017

The Mountain View Police Department is receiving $450,000 for its part in a 2017 drug bust on a opium operation that was being run out of a San Antonio neighborhood home.

At the time, police officials described it as perhaps the largest takedown of an illegal opium operation in California history. The bust resulted in the arrest of a married couple, identified as Jasvir Singh and Donna Santo, who were later convicted of importing poppies from overseas and processing them into a powder that they were selling out of their house.

When police raided the couple's home in 2017, they found more than 4,000 pounds of opium poppy pods and a large sum of cash. Singh was later convicted for seven felonies including drug possession and child endangerment for allegedly using their two children to help prepare the opium for sale. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Santo was convicted of three felonies, including child endangerment and drug possession. She was sentenced to eight months in jail, and three years of probation.

As the criminal trials proceeded, prosecutors also began a civil asset forfeiture process to seize the couple's property that was part of their criminal enterprise. In that process, law enforcement used the suspects' bank statements to track down their accounts and investments. In total, law enforcement officials took possession of more than $700,000 that was deposited in two bank accounts, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. An additional $30,000 in cash had already been seized during the police raid.

About $38,000 was left in one of Singh's accounts because law enforcement officials reportedly believed it came from legitimate work. The two tons of opium poppies found in the house were later destroyed, according to Mountain View Police officials.

As part of the asset forfeiture process, law enforcement officials also sold Singh's 2014 Mercedes sedan through an auction, and the proceeds were added to the seized funds. The couple was allowed to keep their second vehicle, a Honda Accord, due to a statutory code that allows families with children to retain one car.

At the time of the 2017 raid, Singh and Santo's two children were turned over to Child Protective Services. A spokesman for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office could not provide information on the current status of the children.

In total, about $750,000 was seized from the drug bust and divided between various state, county and local law enforcement agencies.

Under a formula set by state law, 10% of the seized funds was turned over to Santa Clara County District Attorney's office. About 25 percent was set aside for state school safety programs. Nearly all of the remainder, about $452,000, went to the Mountain View Police Department as the lead agency that spearheaded the seizure. The city is required to use about 15 percent of the seized funding for local drug abuse programs, according to state law.

At its Tuesday, Sept. 10 meeting, the Mountain View City Council formally accepted the asset forfeiture funds, through a unanimous vote on the consent agenda.

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Comments

13 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 2:39 pm

We better not see a bearcat or other military gear running around mountain view now as a result.


8 people like this
Posted by unintended consequences
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Seems like this create an incentive for police to allow criminal enterprise to grow to certain size before swooping in to harvest the ill gotten gains.


11 people like this
Posted by impropriety, bad apples
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Sep 11, 2019 at 3:36 pm

Bad news. All funds should go to general funds to avoid even a hint of impropriety.

As with history of cops misusing data access, judges in bed with private prisons, etc.., inevitably it will come out that decisions will be made for the wrong reasons.

Avoid it all now. Don't allow our fine police to be besmirched by a hint of impropriety or one bad cop - protect them by changing this terrible idea.


11 people like this
Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 11, 2019 at 3:51 pm

The War on Plants continues to be very profitable for those who fight in it.


25 people like this
Posted by A bright idea
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 4:17 pm

The city should use that money and start an online city/news source/neighborhood chat site, on the cities own website. That way we can post news and share stories about what is going on in our community without the Voice erasing posts/stories that goes against it's own political agenda that they want to push on us.


8 people like this
Posted by Antonio
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 11, 2019 at 4:30 pm

That money should be used to help the REAL homeless...those who don't even have a car to sleep in, like those sleeping at the parks and behind city hall.


Like this comment
Posted by 5 Words
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 11, 2019 at 5:11 pm

Baddest drone in the county.


2 people like this
Posted by CZ
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2019 at 5:37 pm

The MVPD should be commended for their diligent work. The criminals were caught, now they’re in prison. Well done! I hope the money can be used to increase their wages and better medical benefits.


1 person likes this
Posted by Double standard
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2019 at 7:54 pm

Can I just ask why the dude gets four years and the woman gets 8 months? What happened to equal treatment under the law? Typical double standard.


9 people like this
Posted by confused
a resident of Gemello
on Sep 11, 2019 at 8:22 pm

Why is the money going to the police dept instead of the general fund? The police were just doing their job - who knew they collect "commission" on busts? What will the funds be spent on?


4 people like this
Posted by Hmm...
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2019 at 10:18 am

Four years for one perp and 8 months for the other for what "police officials described as perhaps the largest takedown of an illegal opium operation in California history." What is wrong with this picture? Can someone explain why they are getting off so easy? Will they only have to serve half these sentences with good behavior?


Like this comment
Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 12, 2019 at 3:45 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

Too bad a family was broken up and assets forfeited because some plants are deemed illegal.


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