Is It Drug Money? Investigators Find Out - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/15/05 - Nacogdoches

Is It Drug Money? Investigators Find Out

by Donna McCollum

A special team of investigators from the Drug Enforcement Agency spent part of Tuesday in Nacogdoches. Their job is to link the 2.3 million dollars discovered last week in an 18 wheeler to drugs.

Mini vacuum cleaners operated by the crime specialists gather particles from the evidence collected during the cash seizure. You can't see what's being picked up, but a piece of machinery called an "Ionscan" can detect it. The scanner is the same kind used at airports to detect explosives. This one is adapted to scan drugs.

The crime specialist explained, "I'm making sure there's nothing on this disk. That it's clean before I try to sample. We want to eliminate the possibility that there's anything on here before we vacume the money wrappings."

The 18 wheeler stopped by a DPS trooper outside of Nacogdoches has been pretty much torn a part by investigators. Everything and anything that may have come in contact with the money will be scanned. On this trip investigators got pretty lucky.

"We were looking for any kind of narcotic or any kind of drug residue at all and we were able to find cocaine," said the investigator who asked not to be identified. The scans will be taken back to the DEA lab for confirmation.

Despite the sophistication some questions may never be answered. Investigators are still uncertain how money launders gained access to their secret compartment.

Deep East Texas Drug Trafficking Task Force Commander, Reynold Humber said, "Some of these are very sophisticated. They have remote switches. They have enclosed compartments that are operated hydraulically and several other ways."

It's becoming a race of technologies. The goal for law enforcement is to stay ahead. "Sometimes we're stumped. What it boils down to is they have 24 hours a day to try to out smart us and we don't have that luxury," said Humber.

Meanwhile, narcotic investigators continue to gather information about the origin and destination of all that money. The leads continue to point toward the Valley and Mexico

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