12 arrested in alleged drug-smuggling ring
26 charged with bringing drugs into U.S., money into Mexico
Twelve people were arrested after being charged with participating in a drug-trafficking organization that allegedly smuggled as much as $15 million in marijuana and cocaine into the country over the past year, the Arizona Attorney General's office announced Friday.
Of 26 people charged with running the organization, authorities were able to arrest 12 over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, said Amy Rezzonico, spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General's office.
The alleged organization has been operating for 15 years smuggling marijuana and cocaine into the United States through Naco, Ariz., Rezzonico said.
The group is accused of bringing 30,000 pounds of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine across the border since January 2011. The drugs have a street value of between $9 million and $15 million, she said.
The group allegedly used backpackers, vehicles and other methods several times a week to bring the drugs across the border. The drugs were stored at various stash houses around Naco, Bisbee and Tucson, she said.
The organization also is accused of smuggling large amounts of cash into Mexico, Rezzonico said.
The 26 are charged with illegally conducting an enterprise, conspiracy, transportation of marijuana and cocaine for sale, money laundering, and use of wire communication in a drug-related transaction, Rezzonico said.
The 12 arrested are Alejandro Quiroz, Adrian Figueroa, Jose Aguilara, Regina Ann Naputi, Hipolito Ramirez, Jose Aguilera, Ruben Guzman, Laura Rascon, Rogelio Morales, Guillermina Jimenez, Elueterio Perez and Maria Cristina Rascon.
The investigation was led by the Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security Investigations with assistance from the Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Marshal’s Service, the Bisbee, Sierra Vista and Tucson police departments, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
“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.” said Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne in the press release.