Woman accused of laundering drug money; $70K found during I-10 traffic stop

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Maribel Toscano By Jennifer Thomas Maribel Toscano By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

ELOY, Ariz. -- A Mexican national is accused of laundering drug money after nearly $70,000 was found in her car during a traffic stop, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

Maribel Toscano, 26, was booked into the Pinal County Jail for one count of money laundering.

A K-9 deputy stopped Toscano for a traffic violation on eastbound Interstate 10 outside of Eloy shortly before 6 p.m. Monday. Toscano told the deputy she was driving back to Mexico after shopping all day in Phoenix.

The deputy noticed two large bundles of cash wrapped with rubber bands inside of Toscano's purse and newly purchased merchandise in the rear seat of her Chevrolet Impala, according to Sgt. Pat Ramirez.

A 3-year-old child was also in the car and the deputy saw additional bundles of cash wrapped in plastic next to the car seat.

Ramirez said Toscano admitted to receiving the money from a Mexican drug cartel member in Phoenix with instructions to transport it to Mexico. She said she separated and packaged the money in the plastic wrap.

The deputy's K-9 alerted to the presence of narcotics coming from the bundles of money.

The vehicle and $69,975 in cash were seized as evidence.

Toscano's child was turned over to a friend.

"Arizona is ground zero for drug and human smuggling," Sheriff Paul Babeu said. "Pinal County is one of the most active counties in all of America for cartel smuggling operations."