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Video: Vehicle bust yields bundles of cash, meth

One man is in custody on suspicion of drug charges after Merced police allegedly found several pounds of methamphetamine inside of his car.

Police also allegedly found more than $100,000 in cash in the vehicle — so much money they needed several paper grocery bags to transport all of the bills.

Suspect Charles Loretto Morales, 28, of Southgate was arrested by Merced police. At press time, Morales was still being questioned by Merced police and had not been booked into the Merced County Jail.

Merced Police Cmdr. Floyd Higdon said police arrested the suspect near the intersection of Main and T streets after police received an anonymous tip of his whereabouts. Merced Police Detective John Fister located Morales at 1:42 p.m. and asked him if he could search the his teal Honda Accord.

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After Morales consented to the search, Fister located some of the cash. The Merced Multi-Agency Task Force was then called to provide assistance, Higdon said. As members of the task force ripped the car apart, they discovered large bundles of $25, $50 and $100 bills stuffed in hidden compartments under the vehicles’ carpets, under floor boards and seats.

The task force also discovered more than four pounds of crystal methamphetamine — two large bricks of the narcotic wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. Morales denied knowledge of the cash and the narcotics, Higdon said.

Higdon said investigators will not be sure of the exact amount of the cash kept in the car until they are able to count it. The drugs allegedly found in the car are worth at least $72,000, Higdon said.

Cmdr. Neil Compston of the Merced Multi Agency Task Force called the bust a big find. "Just the cash alone is very sizable,” Compston said.

Compston speculated that Morales probably was not acting alone. Mexican pesos were also found in Morales’ pockets, Compston said. “He’s transporting for somebody,” Compston said.

The Merced Police Department’s drug sniffing dog “Charlie,” a black Labrador, was brought to the scene to help located the drugs.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com

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