INDIANAPOLIS - Federal agents have confiscated more than $165,000 in suspected drug money found hidden inside a television set at an Indianapolis shipping warehouse.
The cash was found as Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers were conducting routine checks of moving containers at a south side warehouse near Interstate 465 and Bluff Road.
The ABF trucking warehouse on Terminal Road houses containers marked with "U-Pack Moving" logos, a service which allows people to have containers dropped off at their homes and then picked up and shipped nationwide after they're filled.
In court papers filed Thursday in Indianapolis federal court, police indicated they became suspicious of one particular container that was brought to the warehouse because it was destined for California, a known hub of drug activity among interstate shippers.
An IMPD drug-sniffing canine then alerted to the presence of drugs in the container, so a search warrant was obtained to allow police to search the container.
Prosecutors wrote in this week’s court documents that wicker chairs, a shop vac, mattresses and a television set were found in the container.
The television set was tucked between two mattresses, and officers wrote that they quickly noticed that screws were loose and worn.
At least one screw fell out as officers moved the TV set, prompting police to open the set for a closer look.
In a photo that accompanies this week's court filing, stacks of tightly wrapped cash were found tucked among the circuits of the television set.
Officers counted $165,060 inside the plastic bundles, which are commonly used by drug and money smugglers.
The IMPD drug dog sniffed the cash and determined it had been around narcotics, according to the court filing.
The use of drug dogs as the sole basis for police searches is now before the United States Supreme Court in an unrelated case. Opponents argue that the dogs have questionable training and are often wrong, and therefore those opponents claim further probable cause should be required to allow a police search.
No arrests were reported in this week's Indianapolis court filings, as no drugs were found and suspects were not conclusively identified.
A couple that arrived to open the container days after the police search quickly left when they saw a copy of the search warrant that police had left inside the container, police said.
One of those people denied knowledge of any drugs or money when police found him later, and the person who arranged for the container also denied any knowledge of drugs or money.
With this week's filing, federal prosecutors are asking a judge to order that the cash be forfeited and kept by the government. The filing points out that no one has returned for the furniture in the shipping container and no one has filed a claim for the cash.