Freeway dash for cash leaves DEA $185K short

Federal agents recovered about $40,000 in cash thrown onto the freeway Thursday as police chased suspected pot dealers, but Drug Enforcement Administration officials say they are still short $185,000, court records showed Tuesday.

Federal agents made a deal to buy 500 pounds of marijuana for $225,000, and alleged ring leader Paul Loaiza, 31, showed one of them the cash in a bag at a Mission Valley parking lot, saying he would hand it over when the deal was finalized at another location.

But when a San Diego police officer tried to stop the Ford F-150, the driver, identified as

Zacarias Felix-Cutino, stepped on the accelerator.

At speeds up to about 95 mph, Loaiza threw wads of cash out of the truck on Interstates 5 and 805, causing motorists to pull over and dash between traffic to grab $20 and $100 bills fluttering in the breeze.

It was unclear why the San Diego police officer tried to make a stop when he did.

The truck was eventually stopped in Carmel Valley. All together, seven suspects in the drug ring were arrested, but about $185,000 of what the DEA called evidence remained missing after people turned in cash they had collected, according to court papers.

The marijuana ring is believed to have distributed pot across the country to cities such as Chicago and Miami.