Multi-Agency Operation Aims to Seize Cartel Money Transported South

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SAN BENITO – Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are working together this weekend as part of Operation United.

The initiative is an attempt to detect, stop, and seize vehicles traveling southbound transporting hundreds of thousands in “dirty” money in concealed in hidden compartments.

Law enforcement officials claim a higher volume of traffic during the holiday season offers criminals a better shot at blending in.

Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio said there could be cartel money in the car next to you. His department and others are staying vigilant of all cars on the road for clues to intercept the cash.

San Benito Police Chief Michael Galvan said there are several irregularities he looks for once he stops a vehicle.

"Has the carpet been pulled out? Are there screws missing? Do the screws have markings on them? They use the old cars cause they think, ‘oh nothing is going to happen they're not going to check me," said Galvan.

Operation United gives several local law enforcement agencies permission to patrol roads and highways outside their jurisdiction and city limits.

The three-tiered approach creates several barriers for money being funneled into Mexico to be intercepted before it travels across the border.

Operation United also focuses on cracking down on the transportation of illegal weapons and human smuggling this time of year.

The money and property seized during the operation are used by local agencies to pay for: specialized training, new equipment, reparation on existing equipment and supplemental items otherwise not allocated for in the budget.

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