A man and woman transporting “a large quantity of U.S. currency” in a hidden compartment in their vehicle wound up losing the cash, the vehicle and facing charges of operating a vehicle with a false or secret compartment, according to the Commerce Police Department.
Details of the investigation are incomplete, but a Commerce officer pulled the vehicle over Friday afternoon on Interstate 85 for following too closely.
Officers became suspicious, Lt. Ken Harmon reported.
“When you stop enough people, you know what behavior is normal and what is not,” he said.
The officers conducted a search of the vehicle. The search did not turn up any contraband, but it did reveal what appeared to be modifications of the vehicle.
The arrest report noted that “numerous factory screws and bolts” had been replaced by after-market substitutes or were missing around the rear fender well, rear bed and cargo area and that fresh black paint had been applied to those areas. Police also noticed that the driver-side rear fender well had more road wear and dirt, whereas the passenger-side wheel well was clean. Officers also found a full two-gallon gas can in the cargo area and in the glove box a bag of black fasteners that were used to reattach the rear plastic wheel well liner.
The officers summoned detectives and a drug dog owned by the Greensboro Police Department that was in training at Custom Canine Unlimited, Jefferson. According to the report, the dog alerted on the vehicle, which police had towed to the city garage, where detectives found a hidden compartment in the rear passenger-side wheel well that contained “a large amount of U.S. currency.”
As of press time, the amount of money recovered had not been announced.
“It is still an ongoing investigation that is spinning off in other directions,” said Harmon.
Police charged Delores Santos, 36, 3355 McDaniel Road, Apartment 4485, Duluth, and Wilmer Lizasuain-Martinez, 4170 51st Avenue, Birmingham, AL, with operating a vehicle with a false or secret compartment.
Police confiscated the cash pending a federal investigation of its source.
For reports on all arrests made last week by the Commerce Police Department, see the April 2 issue of The Commerce News.
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