Testimony has already started and more's to come for an Illinois man caught in Garvin County on suspicions he was moving hidden American cash for a drug trafficking cartel in Mexico.

Both district task force investigators involved in the case were present for the start of a hearing this week for 51-year-old David Ayala.

When Ayala was stopped in far northern Garvin County back on Aug. 27 while traveling southbound on Interstate 35 the two officers discovered nearly $500,000 hidden away in a concealed compartment in the vehicle he was driving.

Although released on the day of the traffic stop, Ayala was later arrested in Illinois and returned to Pauls Valley where his preliminary hearing in the case got started this week.

Since that time Ayala has been held with bond denied as it's argued he represents a high flight risk.

A second investigator involved in the case is now expected to return for a continuance of the hearing now scheduled for Nov. 20-21.

Ayala has pleaded not guilty as the defense could subpoena the videos from the two investigators' body camera footage.

When stopped a few weeks ago Ayala was alone in a Volkswagon Passat. He 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 reported finding 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.

What they found was a total of $464,910 in cash, which later tested positive for the presence of cocaine.

At that time 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.

Ayala now faces such formal allegations as violating the Oklahoma Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act and possession of drug proceeds.

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