Border task force nets $2.8M in marijuana
A task force created to combat trafficking in the west desert of Arizona has seized more than 5,600 pounds of marijuana worth about $2.8 million, and three vehicles in the last two weeks, according to a news release from the U.S. Border Patrol.
On Oct. 21, Border Patrol agents and a helicopter from the Office of Air and Marine responded to a sensor activation near Ventana, Ariz. around 40 miles northwest of Sells on the Tohono O'odham Nation. During the search agents found an abandoned Dodge Ram pickup truck packed with 1,900 pounds of marijuana worth more than $967,000. The truck, reported stolen from Phoenix, was handed over to the Tohono O'odham Police Department.
Saturday morning, an agent spotted a suspicious vehicle using "detection equipment" in the neighborhood south of Arizona City, according to the release.
Agents from the Casa Grande station and a Tucson Air Branch helicopter responded and found a Ford 250 pickup loaded with nearly 1,900 pounds of marijuana.
Agents searched the area, but did not find anyone.
Later that afternoon, Ajo Station agents received a report of a suspicious vehicle near the Tohono O'odham village of Gu Vo, 40 miles west of Sells. Agents with the Special Operation Detachment and a Tucson Air Branch helicopter responded, and agents on the ground found tire tracks. During an "extensive cross-country ground search" the agents found a Ford pickup truck with 1,800 pounds of marijuana worth nearly $923,000 in the bed. Agents searched the area, but did not find anyone connected with the smuggling attempt.
The truck was also reported stolen and was handed over to the Tohono O'odham Police Department.
The West Desert Task Force is a joint initiative between U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, and was credited with the seizure of $1.7 million in marijuana in July.