BILLINGS -- Federal prosecutors have filed a forfeiture request for $85,000 in suspected drug funds that were confiscated from a vehicle that was passing through the Glendive area in May.
The motion was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Billings.
Prosecutors argue that the $85,000 in cash that was seized from the suspect Cadillac Sedan is related to the trafficking of illegal drugs.
Weeks after the driver and his passenger were stopped in Montana and released, they were apprehended in Pennsylvania with over 70 bags of marijuana.
A Montana Highway Patrol trooper stopped the vehicle for speeding on Interstate 94 outside Glendive just before midnight in May.
A man was driving and there was a woman asleep in the back seat.
The woman awoke and informed the trooper that the driver did not speak English very well and his first language was Chinese.
The woman spoke with the driver and explained the stop before turning to the trooper and stating that they were traveling from Chicago to Seattle to visit a friend.
The driver went to the trunk to retrieve his license and provided a Kansas-issued ID.
While the trunk was open, the trooper noticed a black duffel bag.
The driver said the bag was “for a gift,” and offered to show the trooper the contents of the bag.
Inside the bag were more duffel bags and dryer sheets, which the trooper concluded from his narcotics training to be used to mask the scent of drugs.
The woman, however, told the trooper that their friends in Seattle had asked them to purchase the bags and bring them to Seattle.
She said she had about $10,300 in cash.
The trooper was given consent to search the vehicle, according to court documents, and found multiple bundles of dollar bills.
The woman said the $70,000 in cash was to be used to buy a house.
The troopers had the car impounded based on the fact that the woman lied about the amount of money in the vehicle, according to court documents.
The duffel bags were later identified as odor lock bags designed to hide the smell of its contents.
A K9 unit was deployed to sniff the money but it did not register the scent of drugs.
Three oil-change receipts found in the car showed that the couple had driven nearly 13,000 miles in 18 days.
About three weeks after the man and woman were stopped in Montana, they were stopped by a trooper in Pennsylvania for driving under the speed limit and crossing over the fog line.
A K9 unit was deployed and found a total of 76 vacuum-sealed bags containing marijuana inside duffel bags.
The couple has not been charged with any crime in Montana.
According to a news report from the Pennsylvania Centre Daily, the two people were charged with felony and misdemeanor possession of dangerous drugs.
The report stated that bond was set at $1 million.