A man travelling through Tucson International Airport called police last month to ask if an officer could write a note to the local cartel explaining that he lost $20,000 in drug money.
It was the third time Demarco Alonzo Thomas transported money from his home state of North Carolina to Tucson for drug dealers, but the first time he’d misplaced a chunk of cash, according to a search warrant requested by the Tucson Airport Authority Police Department.
The 30-year-old was afraid he’d be killed for losing the money. He thought it might help smooth things over if he could show cartel members a phony receipt from the local police stating they had seized the money, according to the warrant.
Thomas told police he was paid $1,000 for each suitcase full of drug money he flew to Tucson. He would receive a text on his cell phone about an upcoming trip, and pick up a suitcase full of cash and a prepaid debit card to purchase airline tickets.
When he flew into TIA around 9 p.m. Oct. 31, Thomas received a text telling him a vehicle would pick him up curbside. The driver took him to a nearby hotel parking lot where the money was counted before Thomas and the drug dealers parted ways. About an hour later, Thomas received a threatening phone call from his contact in North Carolina telling him his delivery was $20,000 short.
Fearing for his safety, Thomas returned to the airport the next morning and called police. He explained his situation and asked for a phony receipt.
Instead, police arrested the courier on suspicion of money laundering and racketeering, and searched his suitcase and personal property. They found $17,000 in hundred dollar bills in the pockets of a pair of blue jeans packed in the suit case, and another $3,020 in hundreds in his wallet.
However, when officers asked Thomas to sign paperwork stating they really were going to seize the cash, he refused.