Feds seek to take $50,000 shoe collection from alleged drug trafficker

A raid in April on the Pikesville home of a suspected drug trafficker turned up the usual tools of the trade, according to court documents: bundles of cash, some marijuana, seven handguns, a scale and a money counting machine.

But agents also seized 98 pairs of men's shoes, according to the document.


And authorities are now seeking to keep the footwear - which they value at $48,340, or $493 a pair - alleging that they were bought with drug money.

The shoe collection is not described in the document, but the man whose feet they presumably fit is identified as Jerome Castle. And he is currently facing a criminal immigration charge in federal court. Authorities are also seeking an indictment against him on marijuana, cocaine, money laundering, fraud and other offenses, according to documents in the shoe case.

Castle's attorney declined to comment.

Federal prosecutors have wide latitude to seize and ultimately keep the proceeds of drug crimes, a power they say helps take the profit out of crime and hurts the finances of drug organizations. But property can be taken using civil cases even if its owner is not criminally convicted, which critics say leaves the process open to abuse.

Cash that it is taken is paid into a government account, while property - usually jewelry or cars - is sold off.

Castle is alleged to be a member of a major drug trafficking organization that shipped marijuana and cocaine from Arizona to Baltimore.

Authorities have seized more than $1 million they believe is connected to the group, and a series of raids in Maryland this April turned up 500 pounds of marijuana and 5 kilograms of cocaine, as well as guns and body armor.

Two men, Joseph Byrd and Harold Byrd, were charged with drug offenses soon after the raids. Harold Byrd pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Joseph Byrd's case is still pending

Harold Byrd's attorney declined to comment. No attorney is listed in court records for Joseph Byrd.