Some motorists who stopped on San Diego freeways to grab tens of thousands of dollars tossed by drug suspects have not returned the money, and federal drug investigators plan to review photos and video of the spectacular scene to find them.
Television and surveillance cameras captured two men throwing fistfuls of cash out of their truck's windows while leading police on a wild chase across several streets and freeways on Thursday. As the cash swirled across freeway lanes, many drivers got out of their cars to pick up the mostly $20 and $100 bills.
The pursuit began after Drug Enforcement Administration agents saw the suspects make a drug transaction, agency spokeswoman Eileen Zeidler said. After they were stopped and arrested on Interstate 5, police and DEA agents followed the trail of cash and recovered more than $17,000.
Several people later turned in cash to police, but DEA investigators believe some have not. Driver Who Kept Money Explains Why
The money is evidence in an ongoing drug trafficking probe, Zeidler said, so agents plan to review video taken by a police helicopter, and a television news crew, plus surveillance cameras along the roadways to look for people who went for it.
"We have citizens calling us and sending us photos of people picking up money and their license plates," she said.
She declined to say what will happen to the people who are found to have not returned the bills.
"But if somebody has money, they certainly should come forward now before we come to them," Zeidler said.
The DEA has "a good ballpark idea" of how much the suspects had, and the majority of it has been accounted for, she said.
"We try to bring an air of calmness to the officers on the ground," Borinski said.
Officer Borinski was behind the controls of ABLE when the two suspected drug traffickers threw out thousands of dollars in cash onto the freeways. At first, Officer Borinski thought it was confetti.
"Seeing this vast amount of confetti that ended up being money flying out of this vehicle, it was different," Borinski said.
The helicopter pilot also says the cash commotion on the road was unbelievable as drivers got out and grabbed money.
"That was a problem from the stand point that all of these people then stopped and were trying to get rich quick," he said. With ABLE's help the chase came to a peaceful ending.
The officer has been involved in more than 50 pursuits in his career and ranks this one in the top five. So, what's his number one? Last week, a suspected bank robber led police on a dangerous chase where at times he drove the wrong way into oncoming traffic. In the end, the suspect in that chase also got caught.
Officer Borinski says there's a lesson to be learned. "If we're overhead, you're not going to get away with it," he said.