The Craig County Sheriffâ€™s Office got a big surprise during a routine traffic stop. Deputies stopped a van and found nearly a million dollars in suspected drug money. They also arrested the two men in the van.
News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says to be exact, they found $918,185. Most of it was hidden inside toys and it could be an early Christmas present for Craig County.
So much money, that weighing 100 pounds, it's actually hard to physically move and even though it was hidden inside toys, hard to get past the Vinita Police Department's new canine unit. Vinita Police Chief George Hicks: "Matter of fact, the 10th day on the job for this dog. But it appears that he's going to be an outstanding dog, probably one of the better dogs in the state."
It started in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, when the Craig County Sheriff's Office says a deputy saw a van make an illegal left turn out of a convenience store. They say it's a little bit unusual for anyone to be on the streets of Vinita at one in the morning, and after they made an illegal left turn, they decided to have a look. Craig County Sheriffâ€™ Jimmie Sooter: "The Vinita Police Department's K-9 unit just happened to be in the area, and he went to back him up, and when he got there, he did a free air search around the vehicle, and the K-9 hit on a couple of places."
Inside the first toy, they found $53,000. That's when they decided they'd better move the van to a secure location. In all, they say it took 4 hours to go through it all. Jimmie Sooter: "Every now and then, you'd hear something like 'all right!' or 'yeah!' you'd know they'd found something that was big, they just kept finding more and more money."
Vinita Police say the money had been smeared with some kind of substance to try to mask the smell, but that it's had close contact with some kind of drugs. Jimmie Sooter: "That's been sent off to OSBI to determine just what those are."
The sheriff says the Drug Enforcement Agency will process the money. If it "is" seized, He says 20-percent will go the feds, 40-percent will go to the city and 40 percent will go to the county. He says even that amount is more than his entire yearly budget.