02/14/2006

Ore. state troopers seize $471K in traffic stop

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The Associated Press

SALEM, Ore.- State troopers discovered $471,000 in a secret compartment in an SUV traveling on Interstate 5, and they believe that's the largest amount they've ever seized in a traffic stop.

The State Police said they believe the money was used in drug trafficking.

Troopers stopped a 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche on Sunday afternoon because it was clocked at 80 mph in a 65-mph zone on Interstate 5 north of Salem, the police said in a statement.

During the stop, troopers "became suspicious," the statement said. They called in a Salem Police Department dog, who homed in on an area above the rear axle, where the SUV has a short, pickup-like bed. There, troopers found the compartment, and inside was $471,325.

Police said the driver was a 22-year-old woman from Seattle, who has not been arrested. The vehicle, bearing Washington plates, and the cash were seized, the police said.

"The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration has previously identified Interstate 5 as one of the top five major drug corridors in the nation," said OSP Maj. Dan Durbin. "This is further confirmation that Interstate 5 and the other major highways in this state are regularly being used to smuggle illegal drugs and cash."

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