The U.S. Department of Justice, overseen by Attorney General Eric Holder, has ordered the Sanford, Florida police department to keep possession of all the evidence from George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial – including the exonerated neighborhood watch volunteer’s gun.

Sanford police confirmed on Thursday that the DOJ asked the agency not to return any pieces of evidence to their owners. Zimmerman was expected to get his firearm back by month’s end.

The development is a sign that the criminal section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division is seriously investigating Zimmerman to determine if federal civil rights charges should be filed.

Assistant state attorney Bernie de la Rionda showed the jury George Zimmerman's gun during his closing argument on July 11. Zimmerman defended himself with the weapon, killing Trayvon Martin

Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaughter on Sunday in a Florida courtroom, but civil rights violations provide an exception to the U.S. Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy after a defendant has been found ‘not guilty’ in a state or local jurisdiction.

WESH-TV in Orlando reported Thursday afternoon that police had confirmed the evidence ‘hold,’ meaning that everything related to the trial, from Zimmerman’s gun to the Skittles and iced tea Martin was carrying when the pair’s altercation began, will remain in the hands of law enforcement.