State Police say they will be seeking help from outside agencies as they investigate the circumstances surrounding the largest-ever cash seizure in the state – an estimated $1 million stashed in a tractor-trailer truck.

“We’re still counting it, and at this point, we’re just starting the investigation into where it came from, where it was going and what was its purpose,” State Police spokesman Steve McCausland said Tuesday.

The Texas-registered truck was headed south on the Maine Turnpike when troopers pulled it over in York on Friday as part of a routine inspection, said Lt. Thomas Kelly, head of the State Police commercial vehicle enforcement unit.

The driver, Jhon Rivera-Ramirez, 35, was charged with having a false logbook, which shows how many hours a driver has been working.

Troopers searched the truck and found numerous 5-gallon Home Depot buckets lined with plastic bags and filled with bundles of cash. Police have offered no explanation for the money. McCausland did say it is against the law to smuggle or try to smuggle more than $10,000 into or out of the United States.

“It’s the largest amount of money ever seized in Maine,” McCausland said.

“We’re likely to bring in other agencies as the investigation expands,” McCausland said. “It’s pretty clear the money wasn’t headed for the bank.”

Rivera-Ramirez was freed on $3,000 bail from York County Jail for a future court date, McCausland said.

McCausland would not speculate about the purpose of the money but did say it was genuine. In recent years, criminal enterprises such as drug dealers have smuggled bulk currency as a way of collecting profits from their trade.

New Jersey troopers seized $3 million in June that was hidden in a tractor-trailer. The cash was taken from two California men who police suspect were headed back to that state with drug dealing proceeds.

In that case, the men were held on $500,000 bail on charges of conspiracy and first-degree money laundering.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: dhench@pressherald.com