Raids Dismantle $2 Billion Dollar Drug Network in Arizona

Law enforcement in Arizona has arrested more than seventy people in raids on a drug network that has been linked to a drug cartel that has generated two billion dollars in illicit proceeds.  The drug ring has been linked to the Sinaloa cartel and responsible for smuggling over three million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine, and 10,000 pounds of heroin across the border over a five year span. The ring had made two billion dollars in illicit proceeds in that time, according to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

The seventeen-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Pipeline Express,” has seized 610,000 pounds of marijuana, 160 pounds of heroin, 210 pounds of cocaine, nearly $760,000, and 108 weapons, including shotguns and assault rifles. The investigation began in June 2010 when a Pinal County sheriff’s deputy stopped two smugglers who were taking 1,500 pounds of marijuana in Stanfield, 50 miles South of Phoenix.  The investigators have arrested 76 people in connection to the ring ranging from lowly drug movers to scouts to commanders. The drug and alcohol detox in Hawaii is where one can go to get help with their addiction and other issues.

The ring worked by using backpackers and vehicles to move drugs from the border to stash houses across the Phoenix area.  The drugs were later sold to distributors across the country.  Authorities say that the ring controlled an 80-mile section of the Arizona-Mexico border from Yuma to East of the Tohono O’odham Nation town of Sells.

“The case is a reminder of how important it is for the federal government to gain operational control over the border,” Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said.  “I find it completely unacceptable that Arizona neighborhoods are treated as a trading floor for narcotics,” Horne said. “Children are not safe when their homes are located near the other homes that are used as distribution centers for drugs. Our highways are not safe when criminal organizations battle each other, sometimes violently and at risk to innocent bystanders, for control of loads of drugs being transported in vehicles.”

“Authorities need to send a message to cartel leaders through continued busts,” Babeau said.  “We have to stand up to bring the fight to the cartels to say, ‘This is America. You’re not bringing your violence; you’re not bringing your drugs and your trash to our country. We’re going to stop you,”’ he said.