Authorities in Western Iowa announced today (Wednesday) a major cash seizure occurred as the result of a traffic stop last month. Cass County Sheriff Bill Sage says the story began to unfold when a Deputy stopped a vehicle for speeding on Interstate 80 westbound on November eighth. During the course of the stop, the deputy picked-up on indications the vehicle was being used for drug trafficking or drug proceeds trafficking.
After the driver consented to a search, the deputy found illegal drugs in the vehicle, and a black duffel bag containing sealed bags of U.S. currency in the trunk. The driver of the car was identified as 32-year old Richard Widnes, of San Francisco, California. Widnes, who denied knowledge of the cash, was arrested on drug charges and the cash was seized. The currency was taken to a Council Bluffs casino, where it was counted and checked for counterfeits.
Sage says the result was a net seizure of 356-thousand dollars. He says the Cass County Attorney’s office, Council Bluffs police and State of Iowa will each receive over 35-thousand 600-dollars for their efforts in assisting with the seizure. The amount of money seized was the largest to date in the county.
Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner says it‘s becoming more common to find cash and drugs being trafficked along the I-80 corridor. He says it’s not uncommon to find the money going west as he says the drugs usually go east. Council Bluffs Police Chief Keith Mehlin says it feels good to know they’re making an impact on the drug trade. He says the money will help their budgets, but he says “it’s also very nice that there’s some dope dealer out close to a half a million dollars.” Mehlin says that’s a huge setback to a drug dealer and that’s what law enforcement is about.
After the funds were divided between the cooperative law enforcement agencies, the Cass County Sheriff’s office was left with approximately 245-thousand dollars. Sage says the money will be used to purchase equipment and for training that would not otherwise be possible under his current budget.