Calif. officer, K9 find nearly $1M dumped on road during pursuit

The cash was apparently intended to buy marijuana


Andrew Kuhn
Merced Sun-Star

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. — Nearly $1 million in cash was dropped on the side of the road during a vehicle pursuit Friday in Merced County, according to the California Highway Patrol.

At about 6:26 p.m. an officer, who was traveling with his K-9 ‘Beny,’ observed three SUVs that appeared to be traveling together on northbound Interstate 5 near Highway 165, just south of Los Banos, according to CHP Officer Eric Zuniga.

California Highway Patrol K9 Beny assisted in locating $915,000 in cash that had been dumped on the side of the road during a vehicle pursuit. (Photo/CHP)
California Highway Patrol K9 Beny assisted in locating $915,000 in cash that had been dumped on the side of the road during a vehicle pursuit. (Photo/CHP)

When the officer attempted to make an enforcement stop on one of the vehicles — a black 2020 Chevrolet Suburban — the vehicle failed to yield and attempted to flee, the CHP said.

The officer pursued the vehicle southbound on I-5 to the area of Nees Avenue. The pursuit then headed northbound and ended near the John Erreca Rest Area, according to the CHP.

As the officer pursued the vehicle, one of the other SUVs, a black Ford Expedition, attempted to block the officer’s vehicle by straddling the lanes.

Authorities said the officer was able to out-maneuver the Expedition and continued the pursuit with the Suburban. The CHP said the driver of the Suburban stopped on the right shoulder of the road during the pursuit, exited the vehicle and dropped two cardboard boxes before returning to the vehicle and continuing to flee from authorities.

The driver of the Suburban then stopped the vehicle and surrendered to authorities shortly after dropping the boxes. The driver of the third SUV — a black Chevrolet Tahoe — stopped the vehicle in traffic. Both drivers were taken into custody.

Authorities identified the driver of the Suburban as Frank Capraro, 23, of Medford, New York and the driver of the Tahoe as Desmond McDay, 25, also from Medford, New York.

Authorities said the driver of the Ford changed directions during the pursuit and was not located.

The CHP said the Merced Communications Center received several calls during the incident regarding the cardboard boxes dropped on the shoulder of the road.

Officers retrieved the boxes and located about $915,000 cash. Officers also located walkie talkies in the suspect vehicles. It was later determined the three drivers were using them to communicate during the pursuit.

According to the CHP, K-9 Beny alerted officers to the odor of narcotics on the currency. It was discovered the suspects were traveling to Northern California to purchase marijuana.

The suspects were arrested and felony charges are pending.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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