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Man accused of smuggling nearly 80 lbs of heroin
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Man accused of smuggling nearly 80 lbs of heroin

Pinal County Sheriff's deputies chase car into desert

  • Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (left) with Chief Deputy Steve Henry next with the bundles of heroin and crystal methamphetamine that a Mexican national is accused of transporting into the United States.
    Pinal County Sheriff's OfficePinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (left) with Chief Deputy Steve Henry next with the bundles of heroin and crystal methamphetamine that a Mexican national is accused of transporting into the United States.
  • Francisco Guillermo Morales
    Pinal County Sheriff's OfficeFrancisco Guillermo Morales

A 36-year-old Mexican man was arrested and charged with attempting to smuggle nearly 80 pounds of heroin and more than 8 pounds of crystal methamphetamine worth more than $1.5 million into the United States on Monday, authorities said Tuesday.

Francisco Guillermo Morales, in the country illegally, drove through a school zone in Stanfield at more than 50 mph. When a Pinal County Sheriff's deputy tried to pull him over, Morales sped off, said Elias Johnson, spokesman for Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Johnson said a second deputy threw stop-sticks at the intersection of Barnes and Russell roads but Morales swerved, nearly hitting the deputy in an attempt to avoid the traffic-stopping tactic.

Morales drove into the desert, abandoning the vehicle and fleeing on foot. Deputies tracked footprints and found Morales hiding in a canal, Johnson said.

Deputies searched the vehicle and found three burlap backpacks containing 45.75 pounds of black tar heroin, 33.85 pounds of white tar heroin and 8.8 pounds of crystal methamphetamine. The drugs were estimated to be worth $1,554,050, Johnson said.

Johnson said the drugs were linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel, which was recently the subject of a multi-agency drug-smuggling sting in Arizona dubbed Operation Pipeline Express.

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