Criminal caught in Lee County with $143K in cash

Posted at 4:54 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-17 16:54:38-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A Tampa man is behind bars today after deputies discovered a satchel in his vehicle flush with nearly $143,000 in cash.

A deputy with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Highway Interdiction Unit witnessed the driver of a silver Mercedes Benz speeding and followed until the vehicle turned into Loves truck stop near Bayshore Road and Interstate 75.

The driver, Gerald Russell, appeared very nervous and stated he only had a temporary license for immigration reasons. As he was speaking to Russell, the deputy observed a black satchel bag on the front passenger floor board.

As back up arrived, the deputy checked on Russell's status and saw that he had been deported previously for crimes including drug smuggling, money smuggling and carrying false government documents.

A K-9 search of the vehicle alerted positive for the odor of Narcotics.

The deputy then asked Russell if he was responsible for everything in the car to which Russell responded "sort of" and then stated that a friend had given him $500 to deliver the bag to someone in Miami.

A search of the bag revealed a large amount of U.S. currency rubber banded together which is consistent with drug trafficking proceeds. The cash in the bag totaled $142,790.

Russell was arrested and charged with Fraud and Money Laundering $100,000 or More.

The U.S. Border Patrol also responded and requested that a hold be placed on Russell.