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Hot wheels, cold cash: Police discover more than $1 million hidden in truck tires

August 5, 2014

Costa Rican Drug Control Police (PCD) discovered over $1 million in cold cash hidden in the spare tires of a semitrailer at the northern border town of Peñas Blancas, Guanacaste, on Saturday,  Public Security Minister Celso Gamboa said at a press conference Tuesday.

PCD officers searched the tractor-trailer after the driver, a 57-year-old Costa Rican from Cartago with the last names Dávila Ponce, appeared nervous. The search uncovered 108 different colored packages of tightly packed U.S. dollars hidden in two spare tires, totaling $1,116,840. The colored packages had names written on them, like “Luis,” “Tavo,” and “Chacho.” The trailer was empty.

In the driver’s compartment police also discovered Dávila Ponce’s son, a 29-year-old with the last names Dávila Martínez, who abandoned a truck he was driving in El Salvador on Friday with 102 kilograms of cocaine. The Public Security Ministry said that Dávila Martínez was reportedly traveling to Guatemala to hand over his drugs.

Neither father or son had criminal records.

“As the son was driving up with drugs his father was driving down with cash,” Public Security Vice Minister Gustavo Mata said.

The vice minister told The Tico Times that some of the money was likely destined for the purchase of cocaine, guns or other equipment in Costa Rica before the rest was sent to Panama or Colombia.

“The money goes down, it doesn’t go up. It comes down from North America, Guatemala, Mexico, down to Costa Rica, Panama,” Mata said.

Mata believes the father and son duo were working for the same criminal organization, but he couldn’t confirm it as of Tuesday afternoon.

The suspects have been turned over to the prosecutor’s office in Liberia, Guanacaste. They could face eight to 20 years in prison for money laundering if convicted.

 

Courtesy Public Security Ministry
One of 108 packages worth over $1 million found inside two spare tires on Saturday, August 2, 2014, in Peñas Blancas, Guanacaste. Courtesy Public Security Ministry

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