Safford Police officer Brian Avila found something unusual when performing a vehicle search after pulling over a reckless driver on Tuesday – $51,516 in cash.
Aurangzeb M. Sheikh, 19, of Texas was pulled over by Safford Police after they witnessed him driving his black, 2007 BMW G-6 sportscar recklessly on Highway 70. He also drove south on First Avenue at speeds estimated at 80 mph. Sheikh was given a citation for speeding and performing an unsafe lane change.
According to his report, prior to Sheikh leaving, Avila asked him if he had any illegal items in his vehicle. Sheikh stated he did not and then consented to a vehicle search.
Avila found a marijuana grinder, a marijuana joint, an Islamic Republic of Pakistan international driving permit and $51,516 in cash in a duffle bag on the passenger seat.
“When you find those items in that kind of car with someone so young, it raises eyebrows,” Chief John Griffin said.
When asked about the money, Sheikh stated he was a professional poker player and was traveling from Las Vegas to Houston, Texas.
He said he had won the money playing at the casinos in Las Vegas. Safford Police reminded Sheikh that his driver’s license gave his age as 19 years old.
He then told officers he had won the money playing poker on-line and at various poker games he hosted with friends at a rented Las Vegas residence. Safford Police drove Sheikh’s car to the Safford Police station for a more thorough search. They placed the money and Sheikh’s laptop in the police vault.
Sheikh was transported to the station as well and consented to give a urine sample. Officers used a Status Stick test kit, which came up positive for THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol) – the psychoactive substance found in marijuana.
Sheikh denied the marijuana items were his but admitted to possessing a fraudulent document.
He said he obtained the Pakistani driving permit from his brother, who lives in that country. He claimed he used it to get into casinos to play poker. Safford Police could find no criminal history on Sheikh. The Federal Bureau of Investigations was notified and did a background investigation of its own.
The FBI confirmed Sheikh was a well-known on-line poker player and had previously won nearly $200,000 in the Bahamas. Sheikh was cited for DUI-drugs, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and forgery. He was booked into the Graham County Jail and released the next day. His car, money and laptop were returned to him.