$1 Million in suspected drug money seized during routine traffic stop

Posted: Nov 12, 2015 11:52 AM PST Updated: Nov 12, 2015 11:52 AM PST

(Nacogdoches County)

Ricardo Avalos-Victor (Nacogdoches County)

NACOGDOCHES (KYTX) – A recent traffic stop in Nacogdoches led officers to the seizure of more than $1 million in suspected drug money, and the arrest of one person.

On Saturday, October 10, 2015, deputies conducted a traffic stop on a white Ford SUV for speeding on Loop 224 at Old Tyler Road south bound. The vehicle was occupied by a lone male who was nervous and gave conflicting statements about his trip. During the traffic stop deputies grew suspicious that criminal activity was occurring.

Deputies conducted a search of the motor vehicle which led to the seizure of 1.1 million dollars. The money was concealed in three duffle bags in the cargo area of the SUV. The suspect denied that the money belonged to him. He confirmed the deputies’ original suspicions that the money was proceeds from drug cartel activity.

Deputies detained the suspect pending further investigation into the circumstances surround the money.

He was transported to the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s investigators arrived on scene and a thorough count of the money was conducted. The money was sorted by face value of the bills and divided into five thousand dollar bundles. An official count of the money took several hours and ultimately resulted in a final total of $1,150,650.00 dollars.

After a thorough investigation, 30-year-old Ricardo Avalos-Victor, from Georgia, was arrested and charged with Money Laundering, a first degree felony, and Regulation of Money Services Businesses, a 3rd degree felony. Bond was set at 2,205,000.00 dollars.

During the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office contacted the Nacogdoches County District Attorney’s Office. A member of the DA’s Office traveled to the Sheriff’s Office.

The worked together to prepare the paperwork necessary to file a civil forfeiture action against the money. The US Attorney’s Office has expressed an interest in adopting the criminal charges against the defendant.

Concern for the physical safety of the defendant’s family prompted a request from Nacogdoches County law enforcement to seal the civil forfeiture case from public access. An order sealing the case was signed, allowing the defendant’s family time to take appropriate measure to ensure their safety. The order expired yesterday.

The District Attorney’s Office worked closely with an attorney representing the defendant over a period of a couple of weeks. The defendant maintained his position that the seized money was not his. Therefore, an agreed judgment was ultimately signed. The defendant released any claim to the money and agreed that it was contraband. Therefore, the money was awarded to the Nacogdoches County Sheriff’s Office and the Nacogdoches District Attorney’s Office. The money will be used to further strengthen law enforcement activities, equipment and prosecution which will benefit the citizens of Nacogdoches County.