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Two men arrested in Bergen County; cops seize $780,000

Police accused two men arrested in Fort Lee, New Jersey, of using a hidden compartment in their vehicle to conceal large amounts of cash. Police suspect such compartments facilitate drug trafficking.

The two men, traveling through the state, are both residents of the Bronx and were reported to be in possession of over $780,000 in cash stashed inside a secret compartment in their Ford Expedition SUV.

The cash was reportedly inside a wooden box. Police claimed that the hidden compartment scanned the entire length of the car, replacing the rear seats in the vehicle and that it was hydraulically operated to better facilitate the hiding and easy retrieval of money, drugs, weapons, or other contraband.

The state trooper who stopped the vehicle on Interstate 95 stated that he did so because he observed it weaving in and out of variously lanes without signaling. The two 45-year-old men in the vehicle, when questioned, allegedly gave conflicting stories about their destination, their point of departure and the origin of their acquaintanceship.

The officer searched the vehicle with the assistance of a K-9 unit. He found the cash, but failed to find any drugs in the vehicle. Criminal charges pending against the two men include conspiracy and money laundering. They remain in jail in lieu of $500,000 in bail apiece.

Media accounts of the arrest promoted some in the New Jersey state legislature to renew calls to pass proposed legislation which would outlaw the installation of hidden compartments in motor vehicles. Such legislation has been proposed annually since 2004, but has always failed to pass. Proponents and law enforcement agencies assert that such compartments are frequently used by drug traffickers and others engaged in criminal acts.

Source:, "Fort Lee traffic stop brings renewed call to ban hidden car compartments," April 26, 2012