$71,000 in van seized as drug money


Troopers seized $71,000 in drug money hidden in a false gas tank extension in a minivan yesterday after stopping a Virginia man they said was speeding north near Havre de Grace on Interstate 95, authorities said.

Col. David B. Mitchell, the new Maryland State Police superintendent, said the stop ended an impressive week of drug interdiction by troopers from the John F. Kennedy barracks in Perryville. Since Jan. 20, JFK troopers have made 14 arrests and seized 19 pounds of cocaine, 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana and confiscated one vehicle, he said.

The colonel said Cpl. John Appleby stopped the driver of a 1989 Mazda minivan, Hassan James Llewellyn, 26, of Petersburg, Va., for speeding. In searching the vehicle with the driver's consent, Corporal Appleby found a false compartment beneath a trap door under the front passenger seat, he said.

The secret compartment, about 2 feet square, contained three plastic bags containing $71,878 in small bills, Colonel Mitchell said.

Mr. Llewellyn was not arrested, but the money and van were confiscated. Authorities did not elaborate.

On Thursday, Cpl. Paul Quill arrested a man from Flushing, N.Y., on I-95 near Aberdeen and seized more than 4 kilograms of cocaine from an electronically controlled compartment under the board of the 1989 Pontiac Bonneville he was driving, authorities said.

Maurice Baker, 26, of Flushing, who identified himself as a New York City Housing Authority police officer, was held on drug smuggling and related charges at the Harford County Detention Center in lieu of $2 million bond.

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