United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Herndon, United States District Judge.
before the Court is Claimants Semin Muranovic and Mersada
Muranovic's motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) and Rules G(5)(b) and E(2)(a) of
the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Maritime Claims and
Asset Forfeiture Actions (Doc. 9). The United States opposes
claimants' motion (Doc. 12). For the reasons explained
below, the Court DENIES claimants' motion to dismiss.
facts pleaded in the government's verified complaint for
forfeiture (“complaint”) (Doc. 1) are as
follows. On October 28, 2016, Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) Task Force Officers (TFOs) Matt Plassman
and Larry Brantley observed a white Volvo tractor-trailer
sitting at the Highland (Illinois) rest area on the westbound
side of Interstate 70. Black lettering on the side of the
truck “appeared unprofessional and hurried, ” and
the truck bore the name “Sammys Logis.” (Doc.
1-1, ¶1). The DEA officers noted the truck's higher
U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) number, which
indicated that the truck had been registered recently
(Id.). The officers ran the truck's vehicle
registration and USDOT number through law enforcement
databases, which showed that the truck was registered to
Semin Muranovic in Tucson, Arizona, and that the company had
only one truck and one driver. (Id.). The officers
then ran Muranovic's name through law enforcement
databases, which showed that Muranovic had been arrested and
charged with multiple drug-related offenses in Tucson in
officers approached the truck, knocked on the passenger door,
and were met by an individual whose Arizona driver license
identified him as Semin Muranovic. When the officers asked
for his log book and bill of lading, Muranovic produced his
log book but stated that he did not have a bill of lading
because his trailer was empty ((Doc. 1-1, ¶3).). The
officers noticed a number of personal items in the cabin of
Muranovic's truck and asked Muranovic where he was going
and why he was traveling without a load (Id.).
Muranovic stated that he had driven from Tucson, Arizona to
Columbus, Ohio to meet an individual who was interested in
buying his truck. Muranovic told the officers that he then
drove to Youngstown, Ohio to pick up a cargo load
(Id.). Muranovic explained that while he was driving
to Youngstown, his wife called to inform him that his
thirty-year-old son had suffered a heart attack, and
Muranovic turned back toward Arizona without picking up the
the officers asked Muranovic about the identity of the buyer
in Columbus, Muranovic struggled to answer and his hands
began to shake visibly. Muranovic also could not explain how
he intended to travel back to Tucson if he had planned to
sell his truck in Columbus (Id.). Muranovic's
log book indicated that he had been off duty for fourteen
days during the month of October before arriving in
Youngstown on October 27, 2016, and that he had remained in
Youngstown for twenty-five hours before departing (Doc. 1-1,
¶4). Muranovic's log book thus contradicted his
statement that he had turned around before reaching
officers obtained Muranovic's consent to search his truck
(Doc. 1-1, ¶5). While TFO Brantley searched the cabin of
Muranovic's truck, Muranovic told TFO Plassman that he
had turned back to Arizona without a load because his
twelve-year-old son was having allergy problems. (Doc. 1-1,
¶6). This appeared to contradict his earlier statement
that his thirty-year-old son's heart attack was the
reason he had aborted his trip to Youngstown.
Brantley found a light green bag in the upper passenger-side
compartment of truck's cabin. (Doc. 1-1, ¶7). Inside
the bag, TFO Brantley found two clear, vacuum-sealed baggies
that contained several large, rubber-banded bundles of U.S.
currency. Muranovic claimed ownership of the money and told
the officers that he had received it from an insurance claim
officers transported Muranovic to the Pontoon Beach Police
Department, where they placed the seized currency in one of
four empty brown paper bags and enlisted the service of Paco,
a Police Chief's narcotic detector dog (Doc. 1-1,
¶8). After sniffing and bypassing the first of the four
bags, Paco alerted on the second bag, which contained the
seized currency, by “sniffing emphatically, ”
nose poking, scratching, and jumping on the bag. (Doc. 1-1,
officers moved Muranovic to an interview room and read him
his Miranda rights. Muranovic also agreed to speak
with them and consented to a search of his cell phone (Doc.
1-1, ¶10). The contacts section of Muranovic's cell
phone contained a telephone number associated with a Tucson,
Arizona trucking company that the DEA had previously
investigated for smuggling narcotics and drug proceeds (Doc.
1-1, ¶11). The currency seized from Muranovic's
truck totaled $115, 020.00. Muranovic told the officers that
he had received the money from an insurance claim relating to
an accident in 2007 (Doc. 1-1, ¶10).
the incident with Claimant Semin Muranovic, on March 23,
2017, the government filed its verified complaint for
forfeiture, commencing this in rem forfeiture action
pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(6) (Doc. 1). The
government alleges that the seized currency is subject to
forfeiture because it constitutes “money furnished or
intended to be furnished by a person in exchange for a
controlled substance, or proceeds traceable to such an
exchange, or money used to facilitate a violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq.” (Doc. 1). On
April 14, 2017, claimants asserted interest in defendant
$115, 020.00, claiming ownership of the seized currency (Doc.
5), and thereafter, filed the timely motion to dismiss now
before this Court (Doc. 9). On May 26, 2017, the government
filed its response opposing dismissal (Doc 12).
Motion to Dismiss
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a motion to dismiss
a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Hallinan v. Fraternal Order of Police
Chicago Lodge No. 7, 570 F.3d 811, 820 (7th Cir. 2009).
The Supreme Court explained in Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly that Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal is warranted if the
complaint fails to set forth “enough facts to state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007). Although federal pleading standards
were retooled by Twombly and Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), notice pleading remains all
that is required in a complaint. Tamayo v.
Blagojevich, 526 F.3d 1074, 1083 (7th Cir. 2008).
Additionally, when evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court