EAST PROVIDENCE (updated, Nov. 23) — East Providence Police Department detectives, during a Domestic Highway Enforcement (DHE) detail Tuesday, Nov. 20, confiscated nearly $40,000 in cash after completing a stop on Interstate 195.
EPPD Sergeant Diogo Mello and Investigator Darren Ellinwood performed the stop of a motor vehicle with Rhode Island registration No. 583993. The car, traveling eastbound near Exit 8, was pulled over due to a violation for excessive tint to its windows.
“It was a pretty good score,” Sgt. Mello said.
According to Sgt. Mello’s report, upon making a passenger-side approach to the vehicle, he observed the rear and front-seat passengers making furtive (suggestive of guilty nervousness) movements.
Sgt. Mello said as the occupants produced the requested documentation, they were “visibly shaking and wouldn’t maintain eye contact.” When questioned about where they were from and where they were going, the officers considered them to be “evasive and deceptive.”
As a result, Sgt. Mello and Inv. Ellinwood removed the passengers from the car. They were patted down and frisked for officer safety reasons. The officers found two, 3-inch knives on two of the passengers, later identified as Anson Carrion and Daysy Osorio.
Sgt. Mello and Inv. Ellinwood asked and were granted consent from the occupants to search the vehicle. It was then, the officers located an air freshener under the third-row seat. According to Sgt. Mello’s report, further examination of the vehicle revealed a “major indicator” of something amiss, which led officers to believe the vehicle an after-market hidden compartment had been installed.
Inv. Ellinwood pealed back the floor matting and a discovered a “hide,” a built-in compartment approximately 16 inches wide by 8 inches long and three inches deep under third-row seating in the vehicle. Sgt. Mello said the after-market electronic compartments like the one the police discovered in the vehicle often cost between $5,000 and $10,000 to install depending on the intricacies of the devices.
Inside the compartment officers located and seized four bundles of U.S. currency totaling $39,500. All occupants — including Carrion, Orsorio and the vehicle’s driver, Silvio Rosaroio — were transported to headquarters for processing, their information was put into the system and they were eventually released without being arrested. Their personal possessions, including the knives, were returned.
The vehicle and currency, however, were confiscated for Asset Forfeiture consideration. The investigators were allowed to do so under federal paraphernalia laws, according to Sgt. Mello. The occupants could get their cash back if they are willing and able to show proof of how it was attained. Sgt. Mello said it’s rare in a case like this that they week seek to recoup the money. “Nine times out of 10 they don’t do it.” He said it’s likely the EPPD would receive some 80 percent of the assets seized under an agreement with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
To date this calendar year, the EPPD has seized roughly $700,000 (street value) in money, drugs and guns over the small 2.6-mile stretch of I-195 from Exit 4-5 to the Massachusetts state line, which has been dubbed “Heroin Highway” due to the volume of trafficking of contraband.
No drugs were found in the vehicle, though a canine sniff of the cash conducted after its seizure came up positive for the presence of narcotics. Checks on the criminal history of the three occupants found a history of narcotics violations. The dollar amount found by police, according to Sgt. Mello, is roughly the current street cost to purchase of a kilo of cocaine.