Bond denied for suspected drug cartel courier
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Federal authorities said a 28-year-old Texas man found in south Mississippi with more than $1.07 million hidden in a vehicle he was towing is a suspected of acting as a courier for a Mexican drug cartel.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker denied bond for Luis Miguel Aguilar Gutierrez, of Brownsville, Texas, on Tuesday after hearing testimony in U.S. District Court in Gulfport, Mississippi, The Sun Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1lVeaRq).
A criminal complaint claims Gutierrez tried to smuggle money out of the United States to evade currency reporting requirements. The complaint also accuses him of interstate travel in aid of racketeering enterprises and conducting an unlicensed money transmitting business in support of unlawful activity.
It was not immediately clear whether Gutierrez has an attorney.
Jackson County Detective Sgt. Richard Palmer testified Gutierrez was arrested Sept. 3 on Interstate 10 near Moss Point, Mississippi.
Gutierrez claimed he had been in Montgomery, Alabama, three or four days and had bought the SUV for $2,500, but receipts in bags of purchases showed he had bought the items Aug. 27 and 28 in Decatur, Georgia, and a title showed the SUV had been purchased July 13, Palmer said.
Palmer was writing Gutierrez a citation for careless driving when further examination of the SUV by other officers raised suspicions, said FBI Safe Streets Task Force Officer Nick Kovacevich. An officer saw tool marks under the SUV, and there was no oil in the oil pan but something appeared to be stuck in the pan, he said.
Officers took the SUV to the Gautier city barn and found 188 plastic-wrapped bundles of money in the oil pan and engine compartment.
Gutierrez changed his story when federal agents interviewed him Sept. 4, Kovacevich said. Gutierrez claimed a Mexican drug cartel had contacted his family.
“He said his family was threatened by the cartel,” Kovacevich said.
Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com