Cash Hidden in Gas Tank: Should Law Enforcement be Allowed to Seize It? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/14/02 - Tyler

Cash Hidden in Gas Tank: Should Law Enforcement be Allowed to Seize It?

This white car is not unlike many others. Despite the yellow Nebraska plates. But when two Arizona men were pulled over on I-20, the red flag went up.

"[They] gave conflicting stories and statements," says Maj. Mike Lusk of the Smith County Sheriff's Department. 

The deputy that made the stop spotted a small roll of cash.  A search warrant revealed there was so much more. A total of $30,000.

"They had no explanation why, didn't know anything in the world about it," Maj. Lusk says.

Most suspicious was how well this cash was hidden. It wasn't in the trunk, it wasn't inside, it was in the tank.  Three packages... a total of $30,000 was floating in the gasoline.

Lusk says it's consistent with people who are involved in operations like drug dealing.

But there was no hard evidence against the two men, so they went on their way. However, without the money, or their car. 

On morning talk with KTBB Radio's Amy Glenn, the calls were non-stop.

Glenn says "We opened up a whole can of worms."

Should the government be able to take someone's money... just on suspicion?

Glenn: "If I chose to revert back to my 'hippie' days and sell my house and my car, and convert everything to cash, and maybe hide it in my gas tank, and head out to see America... why is that against the law? I don't understand that."

Lusk: "Unlike criminal charges, this is a civil matter."

That is where the difference lies. The pair aren't charged with a crime.

Lusk: "This case is the State of Texas versus that sum of money."

Like a civil child custody case... a judge will determine the rightful guardian, of $30,000. And it could take a long time. .

Reported by: Morgan Palmer

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