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5 plead guilty to drug trafficking charges

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5 plead guilty to drug trafficking charges

Men accused of being members of drug-trafficking organization

Five men accused of being part of a drug-trafficking organization pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute at least 500 grams of methamphetamine, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Monday.

Cruz Ortega Ruano, 30; Gerarado Diarte Lara, 27; Artemio Pena Torrecillas, 25; Francisco Torrecillas Torres, 38; and Juan Martin Tapia Bernal, 44, were charged with drug possession and distribution offenses, money laundering, and weapons violations, said Bill Solomon, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Ortega entered his plea Tuesday, Diarte on Thursday, and Pena, Torrecillas and Tapia on Friday, Solomon said.

The five were accused of being part of the Phoenix-based Ortega Ruano drug-trafficking organization. Pena, Diarte, Torrecillas, and Tapia allegedly worked for the organization as facilitators, stash house operators and couriers, Solomon said.

During the investigation into the organization, investigators seized about 15 pounds of meth, more than $200,000 in U.S. currency, 60 assault rifles and handguns, gun magazines, ammunitions, bayonets, and vehicles, Solomon said.

The men are all scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 10.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Arizona Department of Public Safety; the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office; and the Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix police departments.

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