12/11/2006

La. deputies find $980,000 during traffic stop

Editor's Note: Be sure to read the related article Turning a "routine" ticket into a big-time bust for a list of red flags you might see during a stop. (Secured- law enforcement only)

The Advocate

ROBERT, La.- Deputies seized a tractor-trailer truck with more than $980,000 found hidden aboard, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office reported Friday.

Investigators detained but did not arrest the westbound 18-wheeler's driver, the Sheriff's Office said.

A sheriff's deputy pulled Eduardo Tapia, 26, of Mission, Texas, over on Interstate 12 on Tuesday in the Robert area for improper lane use, the Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies detained and questioned Tapia, but later let him go without being arrested and booked. He reportedly told investigators he didn't know where the $980,216 came from.

The cash was hidden in compartments in the 2000 Volvo truck he was driving. Sheriff's deputies said they suspect the money is tied to the drug trade.

Under statute, law enforcement authorities may seize more than $10,000 in cash without arresting someone if the person in possession of the money does not have a bank letter indicating what the money's purpose is and where it came from, said Blair Foster, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.

She said seized cash may be claimed if someone is able to prove where they obtained the money and for what purpose.

Copyright 2006 Capital City Press
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