State Of Wyoming Sues To Keep $500,000 Seized In Fatal Drug Deal Gone Bad

The Wyoming Attorney General’s Office is asking a judge to forfeit nearly $500,000 seized from the safe of an Evansville man who is charged in a February murder during a drug deal gone bad.

DK
Dale Killingbeck

May 10, 20243 min read

A Casper police investigation into a Feb. 1 shooting near the intersection of 15th Street and Cottonwood has resulted in a murder charge against an Evansville man.
A Casper police investigation into a Feb. 1 shooting near the intersection of 15th Street and Cottonwood has resulted in a murder charge against an Evansville man. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

The nearly $500,000 in cash discovered in a Bar Nunn safe and a car that belonged to an accused murder suspect is now being sought by the state of Wyoming.

The Attorney General’s Office is asking a judge to forfeit the cash seized from Rajion Lee Vu, 25, of Evansville, who is charged with the Feb. 1 murder of Brandon A. Lopez, 30, during a drug deal gone bad.

According to the May 1 court filing, Vu has 20 days to respond to the state’s claim.

The lawsuit lays out how the Casper Police Department obtained a search warrant for a residence in Barr Nunn that belonged to a Vu relative. At the residence on Kalina Trail, police located a large black safe and were told that the property in the safe belonged to Vu.

“CPD officers obtained a search warrant to have the safe removed and taken to the CPD building, where the Casper Fire Deaprtment was able to open the safe,” according to the lawsuit. “Located within the safe were several USPS boxes, one of which was opened and found to contain $100 bills wrapped in brown bags and sealed in food-saver bags.”

The Attorney General’s office states that there were also several plastic containers and a metal ammunition can, with currency in envelopes that were wrapped in plastic and sealed in vacuum bags. The money totaled $489,880.

Rajion Lee Vu
Rajion Lee Vu (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Drugs On The Money

A Casper Police Department K-9 unit’s investigation of the safe resulted in “the K-9 alerted to the presence of a controlled substance on the currency,” the lawsuit states.

A search of Vu’s vehicle used during the alleged drug deal uncovered $2,815 in cash. That currency was seized following the search warrant, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit states that Vu’s girlfriend told police that he had been “dealing marijuana for one or two years” and that both of them were unemployed.

The lawsuit states that Vu, who is charged with second-degree murder, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance, is the “only known potential claimant” for the cash.

The lawsuit alleges that the cash, as Vu’s property, was used, intended for use “or the proceeds of” his alleged marijuana trafficking operation and it was obtained or used in violation of the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act.

The state is asking for a Natrona County District Court judge to declare that “said defendant property to be forfeited to the state of Wyoming, and termination any right, title or interest that Rajion Lee Vu, or any other person or entity, may claim in said property.”

Wyoming Statute 35-7-1049 which deals with forfeitures and seizures related to controlled substances is cited as the legal means to accomplish the forfeiture.

Vu is in the Natrona County detention faciity awaiting arraignment in Natrona County District Court on the second-degree murder and drug charges.

A lack of response will mean “judgment by default” will be entered and the state will legally seize the cash.

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at dale@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Dale Killingbeck

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