8 arrested on pot-trafficking related charges
Alleged connection to Nebraska Bloods
Authorities broke up what they say is an interstate marijuana-trafficking organization by arresting eight people last week, following a two-year investigation.
An eight-count indictment charges a dozen people with various crimes related to marijuana distribution, said a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office.
The group had a connection to a Bloods gang in Nebraska, said Sandy Raynor in a Monday news release.
The arrests were made August 9, and the indictment was unsealed Friday, Raynor said.
The investigation - known as "Operation Blood Fellows" - "began nearly two years ago after FBI agents learned that the leader of the Nebraska chapter of the notorious "Bloods" street gang was obtaining marijuana from a source in Tucson," Raynor said.
The charges include criminal enterprise, four conspiracies, and other charges alleging possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, money laundering, and Arizona Motor Vehicle Division fraud in connection with drug trafficking, Raynor said.
"Marcos Cruz, as lead defendant, was charged in seven of the counts, including the continuing criminal enterprise charge. Also arrested with Cruz were Sandra Yvette Mendivil Redondo, Manuel Gortari Redondo, Julio Cesar Chiquete, Angel Alberto Rodriguez, Martin Servando Cruz, Aaron Vidrio Martinez, and Elsa Rodriguez, all of whom are related or closely associated to Marcos Cruz. An additional defendant, Sandra Cruz Noreiga, was already in custody on unrelated charges. Three other defendants remain at large," Raynor said.
"We are working to shut a revolving door for drugs at the U.S.-Mexico border," U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke said in the release.
"Taking down and dismantling large-scale trafficking operations like this demonstrates the unyielding commitment from our office and our partners at FBI, HSI, and other federal and local law enforcement to stop drug traffickers and secure the border," he said.
From the release:
Each defendant, with the exception of Elsa Rodriguez, is charged with at least one count that carries a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment.
Marcos Cruz, who is charged with the criminal enterprise charge, faces a term of 20 years to life imprisonment on that charge. Elsa Rodriguez is charged only with the money laundering conspiracy charge, which carries a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
Each of the counts of the indictment also bears the possibility of a fine in addition to the terms of imprisonment.
The investigation was conducted the FBI, with assistance from ICE Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Tucson Counter-Narcotics Alliance, the Pima County Sheriff's Office, and the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division Investigations Section.