Acting on a tip from an Atlanta drug task force, the Commerce Police Department confiscated more than $120,000 in cash last week at two suspected Hillcrest Street “stash houses.”
Chad Knight, head of the department’s Criminal Investigation Division, said the early Thursday morning raids were the result of an undercover operation being conducted by an Atlanta police task force in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration.
“They contacted us, we conducted some interviews and obtained two search warrants,” said Knight.
Police entered houses at 127 Hillcrest and 153 Hillcrest, both owned by Carlos Duran, who is in jail in Atlanta. No one was at either residence at the time.
Knight said the department has issued a warrant for the arrest of Meyssi Saavedra, who occupied the 153 Hillcrest Street address.
Police found $100,000 in cash and 3.5 ounces of cocaine in one house, $20,000 in the other, along with a pistol-grip shotgun. They also found packaging materials, scales and bank records, but Knight said there was no evidence that the houses had been used to grow marijuana.
What they did not find, the investigator said, was any evidence of a legitimate source of income. They found evidence that Duran and Saavedra had traveled extensively to destinations including Honduras and Mexico. Cell phone records will be investigated by the drug task force.
In addition to seizing the cash and drugs, officers also froze bank accounts containing $9,000, Knight said. The department plans to confiscate all of the cash.
“Right now we are following the money,” he said, indicating that there may be money laundering involved.
“We’ve identified a potential business in Walton County,” said Knight.
The houses appeared to have been lived in. In one, officers found lighted candles and lights on that suggested the houses are being lived in.
City records indicate that Duran got utility services for one house in mid-September and had owned the other for eight to nine months, according to Knight.
The Atlanta Police Task Force takes credit for the arrest. With the flow of illegal drugs in that area of Commerce, as well as other areas, why not have a Commerce Police Drug Task Force? Or Jackson County Police Drug Task Force?