Frank Capraro, 23, and Desmond McDay, 25, both of New York, were arrested Friday evening following a chase that saw the men use walkie-talkies to communicate and a third suspect attempt to block a California Highway Patrol (CHP) vehicle, police said, according to the Merced Star-Sun.
The officer was traveling with his K9 partner "Beny," who noticed the smell of narcotics on the cash and it was later discovered the suspects were traveling to northern California to purchase marijuana, the CHP said.
"K9 Beny usually gets all the glory in these types of incidents but it is his handler that really deserves the credit this time. What an amazing team!" CHP Merced wrote on Facebook.
Before the chase, the officer observed three cars traveling together on Interstate 5 in Merced County around 6:26 p.m. on Friday. He attempted to stop one of the vehicles -- a black 2020 Chevrolet Suburban -- which failed to yield. During the chase, one of the other vehicles, a black Ford Expedition, attempted to block the CHP officer, who was able to outmaneuver it.
The Suburban was eventually pursued and at some point dumped two cardboard boxes off near the shoulder of the highway. After dropping the cash, the driver took off again, before he eventually surrendered, police said.
"Merced Communications Center received several 911 calls regarding the cardboard boxes that were dropped off on the shoulder," police said. "Officers retrieved the cardboard boxes and located U.S. currency estimated to be $915,000."
The driver of the Suburban and a second SUV that was later stopped in traffic were both taken into custody, while the SUV that tried to block the officer escaped, authorities said, according to the paper.
Police added that felony charges are pending.