Following the initial traffic stop, a canine alerted law enforcement to the presence of illegal drugs in the luggage compartment of the bus. Task force officers subsequently conducted a search of the bus and discovered large bundles of cash hidden in three suitcases.
The first suitcase contained $86,900 in U.S. currency wrapped in cellophane and hidden inside a blanket. The second suitcase contained $155,000 stuffed inside hollowed-out shoes. The third suitcase contained $145,000, also stuffed in shoes. The three individuals in possession of the suitcases each claimed they were unaware the money was in their luggage.
"Seizing the ill-gotten proceeds of criminal organizations is a highly effective law-enforcement tool because it removes the profit incentive and hampers their ability to fund further illicit actions," said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "This case is a prime example of local and federal authorities working together to identify, disrupt and dismantle criminal activities."
Parmer oversees a five-state area of responsibility including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
HSI Birmingham investigators seized a total of $386,900 after determining the individuals in possession of the suitcases didn't claim ownership of the currency and were bound for Mexico, which meant the money would have crossed an international border and was a potential violation of bulk cash smuggling laws.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected narcotics smuggling and related information by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. For more information, visit www.ice.gov.