Task Force seizes $387,000 from passenger busBy Matt Cole Published 10:53am Thursday, December 12, 2013
The 17th Judicial Drug Task Force seized nearly $387,000 from a passenger bus on Interstate 20/59 near Cuba early Sunday morning.
Task Force Commander Clint Sumlin said after speaking with the driver of the bus, Task Force agents brought a K-9 unit, and the dogs alerted the agents to check the luggage area of the bus.
“We found the money in suitcases belonging to three passengers,” Sumlin said. “The passengers denied knowing anything about the money when confronted about it.”
The passengers were Mexican nationals, so the task force called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who is now overseeing the case.
Sumlin said the money was found rolled up inside the heel of women’s wedge shoes and rolled up inside sheets that looked to be in original packaging. The first suitcase had $86,900 in it, the second suitcase had $155,000, and the third had $145,000.
In an ICE press release, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. said seizing money in a stop like this helps prevent further illegal actions of criminal organizations.
“Seizing the ill-gotten proceeds of criminal organizations is a highly effective law-enforcement tool because it removes the profit incentive and hampers their ability to fund further illicit actions,” Parmer said. “This case is a prime example of local and federal authorities working together to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal activities.”
Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
HSI Birmingham investigators seized a total of $386,900 after determining the individuals in possession of the suitcases didn’t claim ownership of the currency and were bound for Mexico, which meant the money would have crossed an international border and was a potential violation of bulk cash smuggling laws.
The 17th Judicial Drug Task Force was started by District Attorney Greg Griggers in 2011. In addition to traffic enforcement, the Task Force also does undercover operations to stop drug trafficking and distribution in Marengo, Sumter and Greene counties.