SALT LAKE CITY — A Florida man was arrested in Utah after troopers said they discovered $250,000 in cash in his car and suspect he was engaging in drug trafficking.
Robert Allen Mercer, 69, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was arrested Tuesday for investigation of money laundering and speeding.
A Utah Highway Patrol trooper originally pulled Mercer over for speeding on I-80 headed west near the Salt Lake International Airport, said UHP Sgt. Nick Street.
“During the traffic stop I suspected Robert of being involved in criminal activity,” the trooper wrote in his booking affidavit.
During a search of his car, troopers found “approximately $250,000 in cash, a loaded gun, two empty suitcases and a large constructed wood box designed to conceal contraband. In addition, there was equipment found to package and process illegal drugs,” the affidavit states.
Street said the “wood box” was in the back of the man’s rented minivan and designed to look like a mattress in the back, covered with a blanket. But the “mattress” was not the right size for anyone to sleep on, he said.
“The cash was bundled and packaged in a manner consistent with those using money to purchase narcotics and smelled of marijuana,” the trooper wrote.
Mercer gave troopers conflicting stories as to why he was traveling, according to the affidavit.
Street said Mercer originally claimed he was headed to Reno.