The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORAN
In this civil forfeiture action arising under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6), the government seeks forfeiture of $ 9,800 which it claims was either money furnished or intended to be furnished in exchange for a controlled substance, proceeds from the sale of a controlled substance, or money used or intended to be used to facilitate narcotics trafficking. Claimant Manuel Sanchez now moves to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the government's complaint fails to show probable cause for the seizure. For the reasons set forth below, claimant's motion is granted without prejudice.
In considering a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim, we accept all well pled factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences from these facts in favor of the plaintiff. Travel All Over the World, Inc. v. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 73 F.3d 1423, 1429 (7th Cir. 1996). Read in this light, the facts are as follows.
On April 7, 1995, William Grant (Grant), Special Agent with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), was on assignment with the O'Hare Airport Task Force Group. At approximately 6:10 p.m., an unknown cooperating individual (CI) advised Grant that Manuel Sanchez (Sanchez) was departing Chicago O'Hare International Airport aboard American Airlines flight # 1713 to El Paso, Texas. The CI further stated that Sanchez had purchased a round trip ticket, with cash, approximately thirty minutes before the scheduled departure time of 6:20 p.m.
Sanchez emerged from the jetway carrying a black suit bag. Grant and Martin identified themselves as DEA agents and displayed their credentials to Sanchez. Sanchez agreed to speak with the agents. Sanchez produced an American Airlines round trip ticket to El Paso which was issued in his name and indicated a return date of April 17, 1995. Sanchez told the agents that he was not carrying any other forms of identification. When the agents asked Sanchez why he was going to El Paso, Sanchez replied that he was going to visit some friends.
Grant proceeded to advise Sanchez that the Task Force was conducting routine narcotics investigations and that Sanchez did not have to speak with them. He further advised Sanchez that he was not under arrest and was thus free to leave at any time. Grant then told Sanchez that he would like to ask a few more questions. Sanchez agreed. Grant then asked Sanchez if he was carrying any large amounts of money. Sanchez stated that he had about $ 9,000 in cash, removed a white envelope containing fifty and one hundred dollar bills from his jacket pocket, and handed the envelope to Grant. The envelope had franking, stating: "Velasquez and Sons Muffler Shop, 2335 South Western Avenue, Chicago, Illinois."
When asked where he obtained the money, Sanchez stated that he earned it working in a jewelry store. After Grant asked the name of the jewelry store, Sanchez hesitated for a moment and then stated that he did not remember. Sanchez informed Grant that the store was located on the south side of Chicago. At this point, Grant told Sanchez that he believed that the money was related to narcotics trafficking and seized the money pending further investigation. Sanchez was given a receipt for the funds, which totalled $ 9,800.
At approximately 7:30 p.m. that evening, Task Force agents conducted a dog sniff exercise on the seized funds. A narcotics-detector dog alerted for the presence of narcotics on the money. Grant also learned that the address of Velasquez and Sons Muffler Shop, which appeared on the seized envelope, is known for frequent drug activity. Finally, DEA records showed that Sanchez had two prior arrests for the possession of narcotics.
On the basis of this information, the United States seeks the forfeiture of funds in the amount of $ 9,800 under 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6).
In order to have a claim dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) the moving party must meet a high standard. The purpose of a motion to dismiss is to test the sufficiency of a complaint, not it merits. Triad Ass'n Inc. v. Chicago Housing Authority, 892 F.2d 583, 586 (7th Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 845, 112 L. Ed. 2d 97, 111 S. Ct. 129 (1990). A complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim "unless it appears beyond a reasonable doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46, 2 L. Ed. 2d 80, 78 S. Ct. 99 (1957). In order to withstand a motion to dismiss a complaint must allege facts sufficiently setting forth the essential elements of the cause of action. Gray v. County of Dane, 854 F.2d 179, 182 (7th Cir. 1988). Generally, "mere vagueness or lack of detail does not constitute sufficient grounds for a motion to dismiss." Strauss v. City of Chicago, 760 F.2d 765, 767 (7th Cir. 1985).
A complaint for forfeiture in rem under § 881(a), however, is subject to the particularity requirement of Rule (E)(2)(a) of the Supplemental Rules for certain Admiralty and Maritime Claims (Supplemental Rules). 21 U.S.C. § 881(b). Supplemental Rule (E)(2)(a) provides:
Complaint. In actions to which this rule is applicable the complaint shall state the circumstances from which the claim arises with such particularity that the defendant or claimant will be able, without moving for a more definite statement, to commence ...