FOX UNDERCOVER - Authorities have said nothing about a mysterious nighttime raid of a storage facility in North Reading last month, but court records obtained by FOX Undercover show the search netted a massive amount of suspected drug cash tied to a senior citizen with a decades-long record of trafficking.
The North Reading haul – "in excess" of $10 million, court records show – was just the biggest portion of the cash and pot seized as part of an investigation that started with a highway traffic stop in Junction City, Kansas. In all, authorities have seized at least $13 million along with more than 50 pounds of pot.
The saga began in June with the stop in Kansas of 78-year-old Marshall Dion, who was driving 79 miles-per-hour in a 75-mile-per-hour zone, his defense attorney says.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Dion claimed his only source of income was his social security check of less than $690. But suspicious police asked for and received permission to search his truck. They found $828,220 in cash plus records to a bank account in his name with approximately $1.9 million in cash – nearly $3 million in all.
According to an affidavit filed by a Massachusetts State Police trooper, Dion told the Junction City police officer, "'I don't even know who loaded my truck" and described himself as a "mule".
"He admitted that the money, 'would probably go across the border,'" the trooper wrote in his affidavit.
Also inside his truck, police found his GPS device, which would eventually lead to much more.
"They downloaded it and then went backwards to construct a timeline and were able to determine that a month earlier he was in Boston at an address," said Tom Shamshack, a private investigator and former police chief who reviewed the court records for FOX Undercover.
That address was 4 Longfellow Place, an apartment high rise in Boston's West End, and the GPS revealed a stop there the night of June 2, then another stop early the next morning at Town & Country Self Storage in North Reading. Armed with that GPS information, Massachusetts State Police obtained a search warrant for unit 220.
"This is a matter of technology being used against the culprit," Shamshack said.
It's not Dion's first brush with the law.
A 1991 Massachusetts Appeals Court decision over another of his arrests refers to his "'extensive criminal record of narcotic drug violations,' including seizures of large quantities of drugs in Texas in 1974 and from a motor vehicle in Arizona in 1982, as well as possession of cocaine and an attempt to bribe a police officer in California in 1986."
Then there was his 1985 plane crash in Wisconsin. When police arrived, they found Dion scrambling to gather cash scattered around the crash site. Police seized the money, more than $110,000 in all. Dion fought in court to get his money back, but a judge ruled that it was drug money and the government could keep it.
"Marshall Dion appears to be a career criminal, well versed and schooled in drug trafficking based on his criminal history, from what I understand. He may be just an enterprising criminal, he may be part of a larger criminal syndicate," Shamshack said.
So far, Dion has not been charged in Massachusetts. He is being held in a Kansas jail on a charge of transporting drug proceeds. His defense attorney in Kansas declined to talk about what police found in Massachusetts but said he's fighting the search in Kansas, suggesting police shouldn't have searched Dion's car given the speed was only four miles over the limit.
Back in North Reading, police on July 2 searched the 10-by 20-foot unit Dion was renting, looking for evidence of drug trafficking. It appears they found it.
Court records show that "in excess of ten million dollars in US currency was seized" along with "in excess of fifty pounds" of marijuana.
Documents inside the North Reading unit led police to another storage unit in Saugus, where more cash and marijuana were found.
"Fifty pounds of pot is substantial, that's trafficking but the 10 million, that's intriguing. Was that done over a long period of time, did he accumulate it, or was there a couple of trailer trucks that come here with a much larger quantity and there was a couple of quick purchases? The money would be laundered but again where is it going to go?" Shamshack said. "Are there other people involved in this scheme?"
These are all questions police are sure to be asking as they continue looking into the geriatric driver that led them to an enormous stash of cash.
"You look at his age and who would suspect a senior citizen traveling across the country would be hauling large quantities of pot and cash?" Shamshack said.