GREENCASTLE -- Two men were formally charged in Putnam County Circuit Court Thursday with Class C felony money laundering.
Eury David Rodriguez of Atlantic City, N.J. and Israel Ramos Ortega of Philadelphia, Pa. were arrested by Putnam County Sheriff's Department Deputy Dwight Simmons early Wednesday during a traffic stop on I-70 westbound in Cloverdale.
According to court records, Simmons stopped a vehicle driven by Rodriguez when Simmons clocked the vehicle doing 80 mph in a 70 mph speed zone.
Simmons asked Rodriguez where he was headed, and he replied that he was traveling to Pomona, Calif. "for two of three days to visit a friend."
"As a result of suspicious indicators present Simmons obtained consent to search the 2005 Chrysler," an investigative report said. "A narcotics detection K9 alerted to the vehicle, and a false compartment containing $95,000 was found."
The currency and vehicle were confiscated for investigation and possible forfeiture, and Rodriguez and Ortega were charged with violation of the Indiana money laundering statute.
By legal definition, Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter explained, money laundering is when money gained through illegal activity is transported and put into circulation. The fact that a drug detection dog alerted to the vehicle gave the state probable cause to believe the large amount of cash located in it was associated with drug trafficking.
According to court records, the K9 also immediately sat when he sniffed the currency removed from the vehicle, "indicating a positive alert to the odor of narcotics on the currency."
Court documents also indicated that officers noted the overwhelming scent of air fresheners inside the vehicle and also saw several air fresheners in the vehicle, which is also a marker of drug activity.