News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 03, 2012
Contact: Special Agent Ramona Sanchez
Number: 602 664-5725

DEA and AG Announce Arrests of 11 Connected to Multi-Million Dollar Mexican Marijuana and Cocaine Trafficking Organization
Over 30,000 Pounds of Marijuana Seized

Bundles of marijuana seized during the operation. Bundles of marijuana seized during the operation.
Bundles of marijuana seized during the operation.

PHOENIX – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Acting Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman and Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne today announced the arrests of 11 of 26 suspected members of a large-scale marijuana and cocaine trafficking organization.  Over 30,000 pounds of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine have been seized from this organization operating in the Naco, Arizona, area since January of 2011.  The street value of the seized drugs is estimated to be between $9 and $15 million.

“Today’s actions deal another blow to the powerful drug trafficking organizations whose tentacles stretch across the Mexico border and into the U.S.,” said DEA Acting Special Agent in Doug Coleman. “DEA and our partners will continue to focus our efforts against these types of large-scale drug trafficking groups who think they can peddle their poisons in our communities without facing justice.”

The DEA and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents were assisted by the Bisbee Police Department, Sierra Vista Police Department, U.S. Border Patrol’s Naco Station, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine, and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department, in the arrests of 11 people in Naco on January 30, 2012, January 31, 2012, and February 1, 2012. 

This criminal enterprise has been active for more than 15 years smuggling large amounts of marijuana and cocaine into the United States through the greater Naco area.  The organization was utilizing backpackers, drive thru vehicles, and a variety of other smuggling methods multiple times per week.  Once in the United States, the drugs were being stored at various Naco, Bisbee, and Tucson area stash houses.  The organization would then smuggle large amounts of U.S. currency back into Mexico.

“I want to thank the dedicated law enforcement personnel from all the state, local and federal agencies that worked cooperatively to make these arrests,” Horne said.  “Obviously, it is crucial that law enforcement work together to combat the ongoing scourge of poisonous drugs crossing into Arizona.  These operations breed violence in both Arizona and Mexico, and my office will continue to work vigorously to bring these drug trafficking organizations to justice.”

On January 31 and February 1, 2012, simultaneous search and arrest warrants were executed on suspected members of the drug trafficking organization and their stash houses. 

The 26-suspected members were indicted on charges including illegally conducting an enterprise; conspiracy; transportation of marijuana for sale; transportation of cocaine for sale; money laundering; and use of a wire communication or electronic communication in a drug related transaction or to facilitate the violation of any felony provision. 

The investigation was led by DEA and HSI, with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Marshal’s Service, Bisbee Police Department, Sierra Vista Police Department, Tucson Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. 

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Nanette Morrow. 

These charges are merely allegations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Complaint charges include: 

  • ILLEGALLY CONDUCTING AN ENTERPRISE; in violation of A.R.S. § 13-2312;
  • CONSPIRACY; in violation of A.R.S. § 13-1003;
  • TRANSPORT FOR SALE, IMPORT INTO THIS STATE OR OFFER TO TRANSPORT FOR SALE OR IMPORT INTO THIS STATE, SELL, TRANSFER OR OFFER TO SELL OR TRANSFER MARIJUANA IN AN AMOUNT OVER THE STATUTORY THRESHOLD, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-3405;
  • TRANSPORT FOR SALE, IMPORT INTO THIS STATE OR OFFER TO TRANSPORT FOR SALE OR IMPORT INTO THIS STATE, SELL, TRANSFER OR OFFER TO SELL OR TRANSFER COCAINE IN AN AMOUNT OVER THE STATUTORY THRESHOLD, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-3408;
  • MONEY LAUNDERING, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-2317;
  • USE OF A WIRE COMMUNICATION OR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION IN A DRUG RELATED TRANSACTION, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-3417;

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