Sheriff’s deputies from Nacogdoches County, Texas, made a traffic stop and found over $1 million in cash that they determined belonged to a Mexican drug cartel. The incident occurred nearly 500 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to KTRE News, driver Ricardo Avalos-Victor is still being held in the Nacogdoches County Jail on a first-degree felony money laundering charge and a third-degree felony regulation of money services charge. Collectively, his bail amount has been set at $2.2 million.
The Sheriff’s Office issued a press release on November 11 that stated:
NCSO deputies stopped Avalos-Victor, who was driving a rented white Ford SUV, for speeding on Loop 224 near the Old Tyler Road off-ramp Saturday. Because Avalos appeared nervous and kept giving conflicting statements about his trip, the deputies became suspicious that criminal activity was occurring…The suspect denied that the money belonged to him. He confirmed the deputies’ original suspicions that the money was proceeds from drug cartel activity.
When the NCSO deputies conducted a search of the SUV, they found the cash in three duffel bags in the vehicle’s cargo area, which totaled $1,150,650 dollars. The Sheriff’s Office filed a civil forfeiture action against the money, but concerns over Avalos-Victor’s family’s safety prompted authorities to seal the case from public access. Nacogdoches County Sheriff Jason Bridges told KTRE News, “Obviously, when you make that kind of seizure, you have to worry about people’s risk—to the person you’re seizing it from and maybe their immediate family.”
After maintaining the position for several weeks that the money wasn’t his, Avalos-Victor finally admitted he had been paid $4,000 to haul the $1.1 million in cartel cash that was seized from his rented SUV. By ultimately signing an agreed judgment, Avalos-Victor released any claim to the money and agreed that it was contraband. Therefore, the money was awarded to the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office and the Nacogdoches District Attorney’s Office.
Sylvia Longmire is a border security expert and Contributing Editor for Breitbart Texas. You can read more about cross-border issues in her latest book, Border Insecurity: Why Big Money, Fences, and Drones Aren’t Making Us Safer.