Patrolman Chris Haller stopped a silver Mercedes-Benz for speeding just after 8 a.m., and his suspicions kicked in when he noticed that at least one of the three females in the vehicle seemed nervous.
Haller was told that the trio, a grandmother, her daughter and a granddaughter, had left the Houston area (Cypress) and were bound for Roma, a city on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Detective Chris Vasquez and Patrolman John Berry, who is cross-training as an investigator, said Haller asked if he could search the vehicle.
The officer quickly found more than $24,000 in cash in the car.
When he asked whose money it was, the grandmother, 56-year-old Maria Vasquez, said it was hers.
Haller took Vasquez into custody, and she was later booked into the Bee County Jail on a charge of money laundering.
The charge is a third degree felony. If convicted, Vasquez could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Police Chief Joe Treviño said Haller had completed a highway interdiction course only three weeks earlier, and he had learned how to spot suspicious activity.
“Apparently, his training is paying off,” Treviño said.
Detective Lt. Eddie Garcia said he expects the city to take steps to confiscate the cash.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.