Roughly $1.6 million in forfeited assets from the "largest criminal organization" in Lamar County history has been awarded to the Lamar County Sheriff's Department and the 15th Circuit District Attorney's office.
The assets include more than 400-plus acres in land, weapons, vehicles, heavy-equipment such as bulldozers, cash, as well as a variety of other things, all once belonging to Warren Lewis, and his criminal organization.
Lamar County Circuit Judge Anthony Mozingo signed the order Friday morning during a brief hearing.
"The judge awarded us the things that we seized because they were used in this criminal enterprise, and it's probably the largest criminal enterprise that the Lamar County Sheriff's Office has ever investigated," said Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel.
Lewis, 70, and six-others were arrested for drug activity on a 400-plus acre compound west of Lumberton city limits in November 2013 nearly a 12 year investigation by the Lamar County Sheriff's Department Narcotics Unit.
In July 2014, Lewis was sentenced to nearly 17 years in federal prison for running what is said to be the largest criminal enterprise in Lamar County history.
More than once in November 2013, officers executed search warrants at the Lewis compound, resulting in a 5 ½-pound brink of methamphetamine stashed in an ammunition can hidden in a brush pile on the property just off Little Black Creek Road. The street value of the meth was more than $250,000.
The various searches also led investigators to seize a dozen vehicles including two bulldozers, more than 50 firearms, as well as about $100,000 in cash.
"Now the criminal part is over with and now the civil part is over with, so we are very pleased with the work of the investigators, the District Attorney's office, and everybody that was involved," said Rigel.
The assets will be divided in an 80-20 split, with the 20 percent going to the 15th Circuit District Attorney's office.
"Warren Lewis and the people comprising his criminal enterprise were major meth traffickers in Lamar County and surrounding areas. This forfeiture represents one of the largest drug forfeitures in the 15th Circuit Court District," said 15th Circuit District Attorney Hal Kittrell.
"Forfeiture of the personal and real property of Warren Lewis was the result of a strong collaboration between Sheriff Danny Rigel and the Lamar County Sheriff's Dept. and my office. I want to especially thank my Assistant District Attorneys Lauren Harless and Doug Miller for their efforts in prosecuting this matter," said Kittrell.
The time frame on when the funds will be made available for the departments is pending a potential appeal as well as liquidation of the assets.