Dog sniffs out suspect cash

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By Donald Richie

The Harrison County Sheriffs Office seized thousands of dollars in suspected drug money last weekend thanks to the skills of the departments K-9 unit, Szem.

Det. Paul Olin said he and another deputy were on a separate investigation last Friday night when they noticed the driver of a vehicle make several traffic violations.

Dep. Nathan Gasser was called in to observe the vehicle, and Olin said he also saw the alleged violations. After stopping the car, Gasser asked the driver for consent to search.

The driver denied Gassers request.

Olin said at that point, Gasser - who is the departments K-9 handler - brought out Szem to check the outside of the car.

Szem alerted on the car, pointing out areas where the smell of drugs was present. That gave officers probable cause to proceed with a search.

Olin and Dep. Lance Hutchison searched the car, with Hutchison finding over $17,000 inside - a find Olin said would not have been possible if the sheriffs office didnt have a K-9 unit.

If it hadnt been for the dog, we wouldnt have found the money, he said. I mean, we could have stopped him for the traffic violation, but the dog was a huge asset to us.

Olin added that in a later controlled test, Szem also alerted to a box containing the money, suggesting it could possibly have had some drug residue on it.

At this point, the department is not releasing any information on the cars driver or whether charges have been filed. Olin said due to the financial nature of the seizure, federal courts will likely handle the case.

Its an administrative process as far as the seizure of money, he said.