Lizmixell Batista, 20, and Ras Cates, 33, were reportedly pulled over by Miami-Dade Police in May for cutting off a patrol car. Following a search that was later deemed illegal, police found six guns in the trunk and almost $20,000 in cash.
Batista is an exotic dancer At Cheetah’s Gentleman’s Club in Hallandale Beach.
The couple was charged with armed drug dealing and other felony charges, but their lawyers immediately challenged the arrest.
Miami-Dade Police reportedly bragged about the arrest on a local TV station, showing off the weapons that were seized.
“It’s amazing how something as simple as a traffic stop can lead us to crack a lot of cases,” a police spokesman told reporters. “A lot of serial killers are behind bars because of traffic stops.”
Body camera footage showed Batista told the cops that she had a cash-only job. “I was supposed to go to the bank and deposit the money. We got bills to pay, sweetie,” she told the officers.
The police department’s legal bureau, suspecting it was drug money, asked the civil court judge to allow the police to keep the $20K seized in the traffic stop. The Miami-Dade police said their drug dog alerted that the cash had been “in close proximity” to large amounts of drugs.
A fellow stripper testified at the hearing that Batista earned “significant cash tips” at Cheetah’s.
“I felt that the glitter on the seized cash was compelling evidence, but apparently the police department disagreed,” said defense lawyer Faccidomo.
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Rodney Smith agreed that there was no probable cause for the seizure and ordered that the money is returned to the couple. The couple’s $3K in lawyer fees were also reimbursed.
Cates says he has a license for the weapons and is still working on getting those back.