Police sieze $35,500 worth of suspected drug money
Bruce Alsobrook | News-Telegram Editor

July 26, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs police confiscated more than $35,500 in currency believed to have been the byproduct of drug trafficking after stopping a man and woman on Interstate 30 Sunday morning.

The 31-year-old Dallas woman and 38-year-old Monroe, N.C., man were released without any charges filed after law enforcement officers counted and confiscated the money at the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office.

"The officers believe the currency is ... from illegal narcotics trafficking," said Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jim Bayuk.

Cpl. Jason Ricketson pulled over a 2005 Nissan Altima at about 2 a.m. on Interstate 30 for driving in the left lane without passing, and also for drifting over the yellow strip on the side of the road. The car, occupied only by the man and woman, turned out to have been rented by a third person in North Carolina on Friday.

After conflicting stories from the man and woman about their reasons for being in North Carolina (she said they'd been to a birthday party for a friend whose last name she didn't know, he told officers he was in that state "because he lived there" and said nothing about a birthday party), Ricketson asked for and received consent to search the car.

Inside a green duffle bag in the trunk were two yellow Dollar General sacks stuffed with four bundles of cash. SSPD Sgt. Cleve "Buddy" Williams, who arrived on the scene to assist Ricketson along with State Trooper Brian Worley, suggested the officer employ Ricketson's canine partner, Sony, in the investigation. The dog "alerted to the presence of narcotics odor on the currency," according to reports.

Officers took the money, man and woman to the sheriff's office, where the cash was counted in their presence.

The cash was mostly in small bills - 949 $20 bills, 310 $10 bills, 322 $5 bills and 313 $1 bills, along with 109 $100 bills and a dozen $50 bills.

After counting the money, the man and woman were released, and steps to file for forfeiture of the money were initiated. State law allows law enforcement agencies to apply for forfeiture of money that is generated by felonious activities, such as narcotics sales.

While confiscated money relieves financial pressure on the police department (six new department vehicles were recently purchased with confiscated cash, for example), Bayuk is just as impressed by the amount of drugs officers are finding.

"Just this month, our officers have confiscated 6 pounds of cocaine and 20 and 38 pounds of marijuana - and that's just for July," Bayuk said.

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