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Texan charged after Miss. officers find $1M cash

September 6, 2014

MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) — A Texas man has been arrested in Mississippi after law enforcement officers discovered more than $1 million hidden in the oil pan of a vehicle he was towing.

Luis Miguel Aguilar Gutierrez was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport with running an unlicensed money transmission business and interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

United States Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker ordered him held without bond and appointed John Weber III to represent him. Weber could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday. A detention hearing is set Tuesday.

If convicted, Aguilar faces up to 5 years in federal prison on each charge.

Federal criminal charges say Gutierrez was pulled over Wednesday by a Jackson County sheriff’s deputy on Interstate 10 just west of the Alabama state line.

Gutierrez, of Brownsville, Texas, was cited for failing to maintain his lane while driving a 2003 Dodge Ram truck and towing a 2001 Ford Expedition SUV.

After giving permission for officers to search the vehicle, court papers say they found 188 bundles of money totaling $1.07 million hidden in the Ford’s oil pan.

Criminal charges say that in an interrogation early Thursday in Gautier, Gutierrez admitted to working for a Mexican drug cartel.

Through an interpreter, he had initially claimed that he had bought the Ford for $2,500 in Montgomery, Alabama. But in the later interrogation, Gutierrez said that cartel members approached his family in Mexico while he was working as a welder in Houston, and he was instructed to pick up a vehicle in Atlanta and tow it to Texas. He got $1,000 to $1,500 cash for the trip. On his second trip, he was told to pick up the Ford in Montgomery.

Court papers say Gutierrez denied any knowledge of the money and said he didn’t deliver drugs or money on his inbound trips.

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