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Police find $7.2 million cash stashed in suitcases at airport in Panama

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 5:58 PM EST, Wed January 15, 2014
Police at a Panama airport find more than $7 million stashed inside suitcases on 11 January.
Police at a Panama airport find more than $7 million stashed inside suitcases on 11 January.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police at a Panama airport find more than $7 million stashed inside suitcases
  • They've arrested three Honduran nationals in connection with the cash seizure
  • The suitcases were all stowed on a flight from Honduras
  • Investigators in Honduras are trying to figure out how the money slipped by authorities there

(CNN) -- It started when police found nearly $7.2 million stuffed in eight suitcases at a Panama airport.

Investigators say they suspect the cash, which had been concealed in hidden compartments in luggage on a flight from Honduras, was being moved for a powerful cartel, but they haven't said which one. The money was mostly in U.S. $100 bills, authorities said.

In a case that highlights the regional impacts of the drug trade, now Honduran investigators are trying to figure out how the suitcases slipped by airport authorities, drug police and special investigators at the Toncontin airport in Tegucigalpa.

Authorities have suspended dozens of officers as they investigate, Honduran police told CNN affiliate Televicentro.

Panamanian police, who described the suitcase stash as their largest seizure in years, arrested three Honduran nationals at Tocumen International Airport.

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