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9 get prison sentences after coke busts on reservation

Tohono O'odham police arrested 10 after 5-month investigation

Nine people have been sentenced to prison terms and one to probation, the result of a five-month Tohono O’odham police and Bureau of Indian Affairs investigation into cocaine trafficking on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

The 10 were charged following an investigation by Tohono O’odham Police Department’s Anti Violence Unit and BIA’s narcotics unit that began in December 2009.

During the investigation, which focused on tribal members around Sells, undercover agents made 39 buys of a total of 250 grams of cocaine from different suspects. The cocaine was worth more than $10,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

On May 15, 2010, TOPD led a multi-jurisdictional task force in a pre-dawn sweep, which resulted in the arrests of 10 suspects at seven locations.

Nine of those arrested were convicted on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, or possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The prison sentences range from six to 16 months.

Those arrested were: Eric James Escalante, Ronna Helene Widener, Jennelle Desertshine Hendricks, Mary Lou Moristo, Vivan Silas, Christopher Cody Lewandowski, Rene Wilson, Terrance Keyonnie, Aleron Sean Martine and Lawrence Michael Lopez. Lopez was sentenced to probation.

Tohono O’odham police received help during the investigation from the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the BIA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

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