Money, property seized during pill mill raids paying for Maitland police truck

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MAITLAND, Fla. —

For the past couple of years, WFTV has covered a number of pill mill pharmacies broken up by investigators.

Eyewitness News learned some of the money seized helped one city add more vehicles to its fleet without costing taxpayers.

Racquel Asa was the only reporter to get look at the new vehicle Monday.

Criminals, not taxpayers paid for the new mobile command unit in Maitland.

"A lot of the time when they are doing these long-term investigations, throughout the investigation they seize money, they seize vehicles, they seize houses and what happens is our task-force agents are giving a portion of that seized property," Lt. Ralph Palmer with the Maitland Police Department said.

Maitland does the long-term investigations with the FBI, the IRS and the DEA, which most recently has been breaking up pill mills all over central Florida.

In Maitland's case, it's taken five years of working with other agencies to get enough money for this truck.

It cost the city of Maitland $86,000 -- which is the equivalent of three new patrol cars.

Without the truck, officers would have to operate out of the trunks of their cars, meaning fewer cars would be on the road.

"It opens up the area and it actually gets other officers in their vehicle and back on the road," Palmer said.

The city could have used the truck last year when a man was shot while driving on I-4 by Maitland Boulevard, officials said.

WFTV also learned the city will convert the truck into a mobile crime lab.

Last year, WFTV reported how cities like Maitland lost the use of FDLE's mobile unit because of budget cuts.

Maitland will get one of its own without leaving taxpayers with the bill.

"You just couldn't budget for something like this in our city," Palmer said.

The city plans to add the mobile crime analysis lab to the fleet within a month.