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Investigators seized more than $105,000 of suspected drug money but made no arrests earlier this month after stopping an SUV on Interstate 80 for failing to signal a lane change, according to court documents.

On Nov. 2, a Lincoln police officer on the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office Interdiction Task Force saw a Chevrolet Tahoe driving west near the Nebraska 103 exit, the officer wrote in a search warrant request.

The officer saw only one person inside and became suspicious that a single person was driving such a large, rental SUV with Maryland plates, the officer wrote. So he followed the SUV and later stopped it for the lane change violation.

During conversations with the driver and a passenger the officer hadn't previously seen, he learned they had flown from California to New York City to visit family for one day before driving back to Sacramento, the officer wrote.

He asked two deputies to help him with the traffic stop after he became suspicious of their stories and believed they were involved in criminal activity, the officer wrote in the warrant.

A drug-sniffing dog alerted a deputy it smelled drugs in the SUV, and deputies found $105,194 inside a suitcase, he wrote.

The driver ultimately said the money was his but wouldn't tell deputies where it came from until after talking to an attorney.

Neither he nor his passenger were arrested, and no charges have been filed.

Lancaster County Sheriff's Capt. Ben Houchin said investigators are still trying to determine who the money was being delivered to. It was turned over to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations under federal civil asset forfeiture regulations.

"We don't take money from innocent people," Houchin said Tuesday.

Lancaster County's biggest drug seizures

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.



Riley Johnson reports on local government in Lincoln.

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