Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced on June 8, the seizure of nearly $2 million in vacuum-sealed bills from the cargo area of a tractor-trailer that was stopped earlier in the day at the department's Interstate-10 Interdiction Station near Live Oak.
The vehicle, which was transporting television sets, was heading to California when officers with Bronson's Agricultural Law Enforcement decided to search the tractor-trailer shortly before 5 a.m. because of irregularities on its bill of lading. Interspersed among the television sets were two large duffel bags containing $1.895 million in cash in various denominations, ranging from $5 to $100 bills. The bills were wrapped in shrink-wrapped clear plastic, and each bag required two men to haul it off the truck.
Officers quickly called in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to assist in its investigation. Authorities claim that the bundles of cash were packaged in a manner consistent with narcotics trafficking.
The tractor-trailer, which is owned by a Miami company, and the cash have been seized by DEA, and the two occupants of the truck are under investigation for both money laundering and narcotics trafficking.
The June 8, incident caps a busy 10 months at the department's I-10 Interdiction Station. Since last August, Bronson's department has recovered nearly $8 million in narcotics, stolen goods or contraband at that location, including $4 million in cocaine, $1 million in marijuana, $600,000 in stolen medicines, 60 large screen stolen televisions and truckload of pilfered computer chassis.
The station is one of 22 such stations that the department operates in North Florida. Designed historically to keep plant and animal pests out of Florida by checking the 12 million commercial vehicles that enter or leave the state each year, the stations are playing an increasingly important role in Florida's homeland security efforts as they have detained several truckloads of illegal aliens and confiscated millions of dollars in contraband in the last two years.