Government Moves to Keep $2.3 Million Seized in Raid - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Government Moves to Keep $2.3 Million Seized in Raid

23,321 $100 bills found in safes, agents say



    Government Moves to Keep $2.3 Million Seized in Raid
    Department of Homeland Security
    Investigators found thousands of $100 bills in a box during the raid on Antonio Benitez-Vergara's Dallas home in 2011.

    Federal prosecutors filed paperwork this week to keep $2.3 million seized in a raid on a convicted heroin dealer’s Dallas home in 2011.

    An attorney for Antonio Benitez-Vergara claims the money came from his client's legitimate car business, named Rhino’s.

    “It’s the company’s money,” said Benitez-Vergara’s attorney, Steven Hayden.

    Hayden said he wants the government to return it.

    Federal agents and Dallas police raided Benitez-Vergara’s home in the 9300 block of Fireside Drive on Sept. 17, 2011.

    They seized $2,335,726 in cash, most of it stuffed into two safes in a closet. The money included 23,321 in $100 bills, agents said.

    They also found three pistols, two rifles, and 786 rounds of ammunition. One of the rifles had a 30-round magazine and one of the weapons was in plain view on an entertainment center, they said.

    “The guns sound menacing, but they were found all over the place,” Hayden said.

    Benitez-Vergara lived in the house with his wife and 4-year-old son, court documents said. His wife was deported. Court documents filed in the case do not say what happened to the young boy.

    Benitez-Vergara, a citizen of Mexico, was living in the United States illegally, agents said.

    He was charged with re-entering the United States after he had been previously deported and being a convicted felon in possession of firearms.

    He pleaded guilty and is now awaiting sentencing. He is being held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Seagoville.

    During the raid, a police dog found a “cubby hole” under the bathtub in the master bathroom, which was accessed by “removing a tile adjacent to the tub,” an agent for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wrote in a sworn statement.

    Agents said their investigation revealed Benitez-Vergara had made large amounts of suspicious cash deposits at a Dallas bank. They also said his former accountant told them the car company struggled with cash flow and had no means to accumulate such large amounts of cash.

    At the time of his arrest, Benitez-Vergara was carrying $8,690, the court documents said.