Office of the United States Attorney, John S. Leonardo
District of Arizona
August 20, 2012
21 PEOPLE SENTENCED FOR ROLES IN MARIJUANA SMUGGLING ORGANIZATION ON TOHONO O’ODHAM RESERVATION
TUCSON, Ariz. – On August 15, 2012, Flavio Diaz-Pina, 33, of Caborca, Sonora, Mexico, an undocumented alien, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps to 7 years in federal prison. Diaz-Pina pleaded guilty on May 30, 2012, to possession of firearms during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense. Twenty other individuals, including 17 undocumented aliens and two Tohono O’odham Nation members, were sentenced in connection with the case to a total of approximately 26 years in federal prison for their roles in the organization.
“Drug trafficking organizations cannot escape prosecution by establishing their operations in remote locations in Indian Country,” said U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo. “We will continue to work with our dedicated law enforcement partners to eradicate crime, even in the farthest reaches of Indian Country.”
“These prison sentences demonstrate that there are serious consequences for smuggling drugs into the United States,” said Rodney Irby, assistant special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Sells. “Our HSI special agents worked closely with our law enforcement partners to identify the members of this criminal organization, conduct a thorough investigation, and bring them to justice. HSI remains committed to these partnerships and our collective efforts to dismantle these drug smuggling organizations.”
“The Border Patrol is proud to work together with men and women from various law enforcement agencies in a collaborated effort to shut down criminal organizations that intend to do harm to our country,” said Richard A. Barlow, Tucson Sector Border Patrol Chief
According to court documents, on October 17, 2011, Border Patrol agents and special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations learned that backpacks of marijuana were being trafficked from a residence in Cockleburr, a small village in the northern part of the Tohono O’odham Nation, just south of Interstate 8.
When agents arrived at the residence, they discovered Diaz-Pina, who operated an organization through which individuals backpacked marijuana from Mexico to Cockleburr for later transport to Phoenix and Tucson for sale. When agents executed a federal search warrant at the residence, they found a Glock 9mm pistol, a Smith and Wesson 9mm pistol, a Cobra .380 pistol, and a Russian SKS 7.62x39mm assault rifle, along with ammunition for each of the firearms. Agents also found in the residence over $12,000 in U.S. currency, along with cellular telephones, police radio scanning equipment, night vision goggles, and binoculars.
In addition to Diaz-Pina’s conviction, one individual was convicted for transporting marijuana, sixteen individuals who backpacked marijuana to Cockleburr, and who were found at a trailer near the residence where Diaz-Pina was arrested, were convicted of transporting marijuana, and two members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, who lived at the residence where the backpackers were found, were convicted of conspiracy to harbor those undocumented aliens.
The investigation in this case was conducted by United States Border Patrol, Casa Grande Station; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Sells Office; the Tohono O’odham Police Department; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The prosecution is being handled by Ryan P. DeJoe, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson.
CASE NUMBER: CR-11-3944-TUC-JGZ
RELEASE NUMBER: 2012-XXX(Diaz-Pina, et al.)
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For more information on the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/az/