A stash of cash found in a car stopped in Garvin County makes law enforcement officers believe the driver is working for a drug trafficking cartel in Mexico.
They got that idea because it all just didn't add up as nearly $500,000 in cash was discovered hidden away in a vehicle driven by 50-year-old David Ayala of Illinois.
The traffic stop actually came back on Aug. 27 as formal criminal charges were filed against Ayala this week in Garvin County District Court.
District attorney's investigators with District 21, which includes Garvin County, made the stop after seeing a car following dangerously close to another vehicle in the construction zone for an ongoing bridge project near Paoli.
Ayala was alone in a Volkswagon Passat with an Illinois tag as it was traveling southbound on Interstate 35.
Once stopped Ayala told officers he was coming from Illinois on a trip to Mexico to visit his mother. He also claimed to be disabled from a work injury.
Ayala denied having any illegal drugs or large amounts of U.S. currency in the car. A filed affidavit shows he did give his consent for the two investigators to search the vehicle.
They found tooling marks under a center console leading them to believe there was a false compartment in there.
Using a fiber optic scope one officer reported seeing several duct taped bundles hidden way in the compartment.
The actual total of money found inside was $464,910.
While being arrested Ayala agreed to talk as he claimed the false compartment had been placed when the car was in Mexico.
He said it was his second time to transport illegal currency from Chicago to Mexico with a payday of $5,000 for each trip. He said no illegal drugs had been involved in his trips.
According to the court filed affidavit, Ayala said he started out by driving to an unknown house in Illinois, where he wrapped and loaded 47 packages of U.S. money.
Then he drove to Mexico, where he met a man who would take the car. Ayala said he would take a taxi to a hotel until the car was returned and he would drive back to the U.S.
Officers stated it was determined the car driven by Ayala had actually crossed the U.S.-Mexico border eight times since December 2018.
The actual felony charges filed against Ayala include violating the Oklahoma Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act and possession of drug proceeds or in the alternative endeavoring to violate the Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Act (UCDSA) and possession of drug proceeds.