ALICE–A Jim Wells County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over a car during a traffic stop and seized more than $400,000 in cash inside a hidden compartment.
Deputy Ray Escamilla pulled over 30-year-old Marco Antonio Mendieta Sanchez of San Luis, Mexico over the weekend for speeding. His story raised a red flag to Escamilla so he decided to investigate a little more and conduct a thorough investigation.
“He started getting nervous after Rey asked some questions,” said Sgt. Brandon Torres of the Jim Wells County Sheriff’s Department. “He also said he came in through the Laredo border crossing and was going back to the McAllen border crossing. ”
When Escamilla examined the car, he noticed some issues with the right and left front fender of the car. When he started looking at it more in depth, he discovered two hidden compartments.
“Ray noticed fingerprints in the front part of the vehicle and it seemed odd for those to be there,” Torres said. “When he looked closely, he found drill marks and it appeared the vehicle had been tampered with in the past.”
Inside the two compartments, Escamilla found 13 bundles of money with about $405,000. It’s believed the hidden compartments were used to smuggle in cocaine into the United States and to take back cash to the drug cartels in Mexico.
Sanchez is in a federal detention facility in South Texas. Authorities report he had no criminal record and a passport to travel in the United States. It’s expected he will be deported and the passport will be taken away from the Mexican citizen.
–Manuel De La Rosa, South Texas Tribune, firstname.lastname@example.org