About $144,000 in suspected drug money was seized Monday following an Interstate 30 traffic stop by an Arkansas State Police trooper.
A pickup driving westbound on I-30 was stopped for a traffic violation by Trooper Derek Nietert near mile marker 62 in Clark County, Ark., near Arkadelphia, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Texarkana Division of the Western District of Arkansas. Nietert noticed something amiss within the truck’s transfer case and took it to a shop for further inspection.
Inside a hidden compartment, officers found 16 bundles of cash wrapped in duct tape and cellophane. The cash totaled $144,795.
The driver of the silver 2008 Chevrolet truck, Esteban Oviedo-Apodaca, allegedly told investigators he was going to be paid $4,000 to move the currency from the U.S. to Mexico.
“The I-30 corridor is well known by federal and local law enforcement as a contraband and currency smuggling corridor and several law enforcement agencies actively patrol the area because of the high concentration of smuggling traffic encountered in the area,” the complaint states. “Oviedo-Apodaca further admitted that he was not going to declare the money in the U.S. prior to exiting the U.S. despite knowing that he was required to do so.”
Oviedo-Apodaca remains in the custody of federal marshals. He appeared Tuesday with Texarkana attorney Jeff Harrleson for a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant on the criminal complaint.