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17 arrested, pot and weapons seized in Pinal sting
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17 arrested, pot and weapons seized in Pinal sting

Multi-agency operation targets suspected Casa Grande drug ring

  • The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office SWAT unit prepares to execute search warrants in Casa Grande.
    Immigration and Customs EnforcementThe Pinal County Sheriff’s Office SWAT unit prepares to execute search warrants in Casa Grande.
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents seize more than 800 pounds of marijuana from a house in Avondale.
    Immigration and Customs EnforcementImmigration and Customs Enforcement HSI agents seize more than 800 pounds of marijuana from a house in Avondale.

A multi-agency investigation resulted Thursday in the arrests of 17 suspected drug smugglers and the seizure of more than 935 pounds of marijuana, weapons, ammunition and cash, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said.

The operation, which involved more than a dozen agencies, was led by the Pinal County Drug Task Force — a partnership between ICE and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office — to attempt to dismantle a suspected Casa Grande drug-smuggling organization, ICE said in a press release Thursday.

Search warrants were served in Casa Grande, Stanfield, Phoenix, Tucson, Marana and on the Gila River Nation. Agents and officers made the arrests and seized the marijuana, 12 weapons, 1000 rounds of ammunition and $35,000 in cash, ICE said.

Homeland Security Investigations and PCSO have been investigating the suspected organization for more than a year and believe it could have smuggled as much as 50,000 pounds of marijuana a month through Arizona, ICE said in the release.

“With this operation, we’ve dealt a significant blow to the ability of drug smuggling organizations to move their narcotics through the West Desert into Phoenix,” said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Phoenix.

“Our investigative partnership with PCSO is bearing fruit, bringing heightened enforcement pressure on organized criminal activity in Pinal County,” he said in the release.

Other agencies involved in the investigation include the Department of Public Safety, the Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Marshals Service and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. Police departments that assisted were from Marana, Florence, Coolidge, Casa Grande, Maricopa, Gila River, Phoenix and Eloy.

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