The Drug Enforcement Agency wants its evidence back, and is warning that it has ways to identify motorists who stopped on two San Diego freeways to scoop up thousands of dollars thrown out of a out a truck window by two narcotics suspects during a chase.
Agency officials said that an undetermined amount of money picked up by passers-by on the 805 and 5 freeways is evidence in an ongoing drug investigation and must be returned to the feds, DEA spokeswoman Eileen Zeidler told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
DEA agents and police recovered more than $17,000 after the Thursday afternoon chase, the newspaper reported.
The suspects, whose names have not been released, were taken into custody Thursday. Details about the investigation and how the chase began have not been released.
Zeidler told the newspaper that the agency has "a good ballpark idea" of how much money the suspects had, and that the majority of it has not been accounted for. She said it will be next week before all the counting is done.
Some motorists returned the cash to the police. Zeidler said the agency will try to find the people who have not returned the money.
The spokeswoman said citizens are calling and sending in photos of people picking up money and their license plates, the newspaper reported.
A San Diego police helicopter and Caltrans cameras along the roadway also will be analyzed to identify people who scooped up the illicit cash, Zeidler said.
The agency may also video shot by KFMB-TV, but an assistant director at Channel 8 told the Union-Tribune that no request had been made as of Friday.
The pursuit began about 5 p.m. Thursday in the area of state Route 15 and Interstate 805, where the DEA had the two men under surveillance as part of a major drug investigation, according to the San Diego police.
The fleeing driver exited southbound Route 15 at Ocean View Boulevard in Logan Heights, and drove through city streets before re-entering the freeway, this time heading north, police said.
Officers chased the truck onto Interstate 805, through the city's central districts and into its north-coastal reaches.
In several spots -- including under the Adams Boulevard bridge, at Murray Ridge Road and near Mira Mesa Boulevard -- cash was hurled out of the truck, prompting passers-by to run onto the freeway lanes to grab it, according to police.
About 40 minutes into the chase, the fleeing driver, who may have run over a tire-flattening strip at some point during the chase, stopped in the middle of Interstate 5 near state Route 56. Officers then took the occupants of the pickup into custody, said San Diego police Sgt. Alan Hayward.