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Officials Seize $1.2 Million in Suspected Drug Money

March 14, 1998|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — In what is believed to be one of the largest seizures of drug money in San Diego County history, customs inspectors nabbed a Mexico-bound vehicle containing $1.2 million in cash.

U.S. Customs Service agents set up a traffic checkpoint Thursday on southbound Interstate 5 near the San Ysidro border crossing. They were looking for stolen vehicles, undeclared large sums of money and high-technology equipment being smuggled into Mexico.

Just before 9 a.m., they found a nervous driver in a vehicle loaded with $1.2 million in U.S. currency. Investigators said the money could be related to the illegal drug trade.

Agents said the male driver acted suspiciously when he was stopped at the checkpoint and was referred to a secondary inspection area. The unidentified man jumped out of the slow-moving vehicle and ran south into Mexico, avoiding arrest.

Agents inspected the vehicle and found money hidden everywhere--including in the dash, floorboards, seats, trunk, engine compartment and roof.

Last year, customs inspectors in Texas found more than $5.6 million of suspected drug money secreted in the false ceiling of a tractor-trailer.

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