The DEA has filed a lawsuit asking permission to receive $268,720 that agents seized from drug-trafficking proceeds in a traffic stop in Harrison County.
The Oct. 12 seizure came after a Harrison County deputy sheriff stopped Jovares Lamont Griggs, 39, for speeding on Interstate 10 in Gulfport, the suit says.
Griggs, from Houston, Texas, would later admit his involvement in a drug trafficking organization, and confess the money belonged to him and another person and came from a cocaine deal in Pensacola, Florida.
Griggs told the Harrison County deputy he had show tickets in his vehicle and about $2,000 in proceeds from his work as a music club promoter in Houston. Griggs had smoked marijuana just before the traffic stop, as he had a few months later when nearly $91,000 was found in his vehicle in Alabama, the civil complaint says.
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A background check raised suspicions, the document says. Griggs was convicted in Florida in 2008 for cocaine possession and in 2001 for the sale or delivery of cocaine.
K-9 smelled money
The deputy notified DEA agents that bundles of cash in a white plastic bag were found under several pairs of women’s shoes in the trunk of the car Griggs was driving. A K-9 sniffed out the money, which had a strong chemical odor as if someone had tried to mask the smell of money, the suit says.
Griggs was driving a car registered to his girlfriend, who reportedly was at the Hard Rock Casino Biloxi. Griggs also had a ledger he first claimed involved business paperwork, the suit says. Griggs said he had just traveled to Century, Florida, for business.
After questioning by DEA agents, Griggs “spontaneously stated: ‘Look, I’ll just do the right thing.’” He apparently was released after his money was seized.
More money found in Alabama
Nearly three months later, on Jan. 4, a Baldwin County deputy sheriff in Alabama stopped a Jeep with a paper tag that was flapping in the wind. Griggs was driving the Jeep on Interstate 65. Griggs allegedly said he’d gone to Century, Florida, to spend the holidays with his children.
Griggs had a copy of DEA paperwork about the money seized in Gulfport in his Jeep, the suit says, and had $4,000 in his center console. A DEA search in Mobile reportedly found $90,865 in cash in vacuum-sealed packages in the Jeep’s spare tire.
The lawsuit for the release of the money to the DEA does not involve the money seized in Alabama. It’s a formality before a law enforcement agency can receive seized property.