Money Seized in Traffic Stops Provides Photo Evidence of Drug Cartel Biz


Drool away at this big-buck seizure.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety today released photos of cash seized in traffic stops by state troopers, including one of a stop that netted a duffle bag containing $248,249 in cash. The evidence shows what law enforcement is facing, DPS says.

The large cash seizure represents a couple of other things, too, like the temptation that troopers must be facing out there and the nonchalant attitude of some of the people connected to this business. Taking DPS' word for what happened, you've got a guy who's drunk as a skunk in a highly noticeable four-by-four (below), probably hopped up on the cocaine he's also carrying, driving around with a not-so-small fortune in cash. His boss ain't gonna be happy, that's for sure.

Several other stops in February by DPS produced hundreds of thousands more in cash, plus assorted weapons and drugs (see picture below).

Text of DPS news release follows: 


- For Immediate Release -

Friday, March 06, 2009

Arizona Department of Public Safety Officers seize nearly one million in U.S. currency during February

Nine handguns, five assault rifles and two shotguns also seized

Several traffic stops by Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers, along with the efforts of DPS criminal investigators, resulted in the seizure of $897,676 in drug money during February. All of the money seized was U.S. currency. Officers also seized four plasma televisions, several computers, stereo equipment, and six cell phones from gang members or during the seizure of drugs from suspected smugglers.

One of the biggest cash seizures in February made by DPS occurred on Feb. 26, 2009, at about 11:30 p.m. when a DPS officer stopped a modified and raised four wheel drive pick up truck for equipment and moving violations on Interstate 40 westbound at milepost 248 near Winslow. The driver was arrested for Aggravated Driving under the Influence (DUI). The driver's license was already suspended for a previous DUI conviction. During an inventory of the vehicle the officer located a duffle bag in the back seat of the truck which contained $248,239 in U.S. currency. The money was packaged in plastic freezer bags and "shrink" wrapped bags. Officers also located a small amount of personal cocaine in the truck as well.

The driver and sole occupant was identified as Rene Oliveras, 43 of Queen Creek, Ariz. Oliveras was booked into the Coconino County Jail on the charges of Aggravated DUI, Money Laundering, and possession of cocaine.

"This one traffic stop shows what law enforcement is facing in the ongoing battle against drug cartels doing business in Arizona. Thanks to the professionalism of these DPS officers, these arrests will help our criminal investigators follow the money that will hopefully lead to more arrests in the effort to keep our communities safe," said Roger Vanderpool, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.


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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.