Police confiscate $205,950

Freedom New Mexico

TUCUMCARI — Tucumcari police said they took $205,950 in cash for safekeeping Wednesday following a routine traffic stop near Love’s truck stop at Mountain Road and Interstate 40.

A police news release reported the money was found in the trunk of a Minnesota man’s four-door sedan after the man ran a stop sign and then failed to use a turn signal.

The man told police he did not know the money was in the vehicle and it wasn’t his money, police said.

Police Sgt. Darrick Shaw issued a citation for failure to stop and the man was not arrested or taken into custody, but the money was taken by police.

The money was tightly sealed in a clear plastic vacuum seal and when the plastic was broken open, it smelled like marijuana, Police Chief Roger Hatcher said.

Officials said they gained consent to search the vehicle before locating the money.

Shaw determined the Minnesota man had been hired by an unknown subject to transport the packages from Minnesota to El Paso, Texas, the release said.

“Sergeant Shaw has a nose for detecting criminal activity and this seizure has put another dent in the drug traffic going through our community,” Hatcher said in the release.

Since the $205,950 was abandoned and taken by the police for safekeeping, the 10th Judicial District Court has the authority to say who ends up with the money, Hatcher said.

In the meantime, the money has been placed in an interest bearing bank account in the name of the Tucumcari Police Department and the 10th Judicial District Court, Hatcher said.

The next step will be for the district attorney to ask the district court to take sole custody of the money.

The court will advertise it has the money and someone will have to prove to the court that they have a lawful and legal right to the money, Hatcher said.

If no one comes forward, it’s expected that in 90 to 120 days the money will be awarded to the Tucumcari Police Department, Hatcher said.