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Traffic stop in Texas leads to seizure of $327k held by Mexican national

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Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio briefs reporters. Credit: Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald.

The Cameron County Sheriffs Department seized $327,000 after conducting a traffic stop in Brownsville on Sunday afternoon.

Deputies pulled over Roberto Munoz Paz, a Mexican national, when he failed to properly signal.

During the course of the stop, deputies noticed that he appeared to be a little nervous and while interviewing him, they noticed some bags in the backseat, Sheriff Omar Lucio said at a Monday press conference. They asked if they could search the vehicle and he agreed.

The departments sniffing dog alerted the deputies to something in the vehicle. When the deputies opened up the bags, they found bundles of marked cash.

When you have that kind of money, you have reason to believe the individual was laundering money the markings on the bundles gives indication to us that this is the way the people who work the cartel bundle it, Lucio said.

Money laundering is a second degree felony that is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The money may have been on its way to Mexico, Lucio said.

Paz was stopped at the intersection of Owens Road and Boca Chica Boulevard at 1:21 p.m., according to the report.

Deputies on duty routinely patrol the streets as part of Operation Stonegarden, Lucio said.

You have to remember, the more officers you have on the street, the lesser the crime. Its that simple, Lucio said.

The money will be kept at the Sheriffs Department until the case is filed. A judge will decide whether to award it to the department.

If it is awarded to the department, the money will be used to fund equipment, vehicles, or overtime pay for deputies. Some of it also goes to the Cameron County District Attorneys Office, Lucio said.

Paz has not been placed under arrest at this time. The Sheriffs Department is still working on this case.

We want to start working with him to see if there is more information, to see who is involved, Lucio said. We want to know who is transporting it and where theyre storing it. Does it work? Sometimes it does, some other times perhaps not, but if it doesn’t, we will probably file on him.

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