Sheriff’s deputies seize $180,000 in cash

SAN BENITO — Sheriff’s deputies have seized more than $180,000 in cash from a station wagon.

Guillermo Perez, 35, was pulled over on FM 732, south of San Benito, for “tailgating” a vehicle, which the deputy observed, Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said yesterday.

Upon pulling Perez over and questioning him, Perez “became extremely nervous, became strictly uncomfortable and gave conflicting stories as to what he was doing or where he was coming from,” Lucio said.

The deputy requested to inspect Perez’s “green freestyle station wagon,” according to Lucio. The deputy then used his canine, which is trained to detect money, according to Lucio, and it “detected something in the back seat because the officer had seen that the back portion of the vehicle where you have the seat … had been … dismantled,” Lucio explained.

“And as he continued to look into it,” Lucio said, “he discovered a compartment located in the cargo area of the vehicle containing several bundles of United States currency.”

Lucio said the total approximates to $180,780, though they will take the money to a bank in the coming days to determine the exact amount.

Perez has not been arrested, according to Lucio, but is being questioned to determine where the money came from and what he was planning on doing with it.

It is not against the law to carry large sums of money, according to Lucio. But “does anybody carry $180,000 in their pocket?” Lucio said.

He went on to explain that if you cannot account for carrying a large sum of cash, like $180,780, you can be subject to further questioning to account for it.

Money laundering is a second-degree felony and carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, Lucio said. The case remains under investigation.