After 12-Mile Car Chase, Mendota Heights Man Thanks Trooper For Saving His Life
A bizarre 12-mile-long car chase involving $13,000 cash wrapped in aluminum foil and a sober driver refusing a blood test ended in the arrest of a 33-year-old Mendota Heights man.
Raul Zarate's 12-mile-long President's Day run from police was not your typical car chase.
The Mendota Heights man never exceeded 60 miles per hour. He drove over a police spike strip but his tires did not deflate. He refused breath and blood tests even though he was sober. And the more than $13,000 in cash found wrapped in aluminum foil and stashed in Zarate's jacket seems to have been legitimately earned.
Zarate, 33, eventually told police in a mix of Spanish and English he was "doing this all for my daughter" but declined to elaborate, and the Rice County Attorney's Office is charging him with fleeing police and refusing a drug test. He faces up to four years behind bars and an $8,000 fine.
Around 11 a.m. Monday, Rice County dispatch received two calls about a white Jeep Cherokee occupying both lanes of southbound I-35 near Faribault, hazard lights flashing, according to the Rice County criminal complaint.
A state trooper responding to calls followed the Cherokee as it exited and made a U-turn onto northbound I-35 before he activated his lights and sirens. The car slowed slightly but continued driving down the center of the road with its hazard lights turned on.
Squad car video seemed to show Zarate intermittently falling asleep throughout the chase. His speed stayed between 40 and 60 miles per hour during the pursuit.
At one point, Rice County Sheriff's Deputies set up a spike strip. When the Cherokee drove over the strip, it swerved, changing lanes, but continued at speed, and the tires did not deflate.
At 11:37 a.m., the state trooper used his loudspeakers to demand that the Cherokee pull over.
Zarate immediately complied, turned off his engine and threw his car keys out the window.
When the trooper approached the Cherokoee, Zarate thanked him for "saving my life" and told him, "I was doing this all for my daughter."
A search of the car found more than $13,000 in cash wrapped in aluminum foil inside the pocket of a jacket in the backseat. (After speaking with Zarate's wife, police concluded that the money was probably legitimately earned and withdrawn from a joint bank account.)
Police attempted to conduct a field sobriety test—Zarate had bloodshot eyes and was waving his arms for balance, according to the criminal complaint—but Zarate was not cooperative and placed multiple calls to his attorney.
"I don't do nothing bad," he told police.
A breath test at the jail showed that Zarate had not been drinking.
Zarate is being held at Rice County Jail.