A confidential informant tipped Pinal County Sheriff’s Office that a possible "load vehicle" carrying illicit drugs was spotted in the Vekol Valley, a known-drug smuggling corridor.
A multi-agency effort including Pinal Regional SWAT, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Search and Rescue as well as the Maricopa County HIDTA worked together to seize the drug-laden truck. Authorities located the abandoned truck in a rugged desert area roughly eight miles from Interstate 8.
The Sheriff’s Office reported the abandoned truck showed signs the occupants left within the hour. Evidence also suggested the truck carried at least three occupants who escaped arrest.
Despite the triple-digit heat the drug smugglers fled into the desert and remain at large.
A Sheriff spokesperson, Tim Gaffney said the 4-door GMC truck had been stolen.
“Located in the cab and bed of the truck was approximately 1,849 pounds of marijuana,” he said. “The marijuana had a street value of over one million dollars.”
Pinal County Arizona is the number one “pass through” corridor for drugs in the country and Sheriff Paul Babeu has been an outspoken critic of former Arizona Governor-turned Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano.
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“Last week myself and several officials met with Secretary Janet Napolitano regarding our southern border. Secretary Napolitano told our group we are never going to seal the border, and since the beginning of time, we’ve always had contraband going through it,” Sheriff Babeu explained. “Myself along with most Americans wonder how the person in charge of securing the border can say we can’t do it.”
Pointing to the Yuma border sector, Babeu stated; “The border can be secured. It has already happened in the Yuma Sector where border crossings have been reduced by 96 percent. Why can we put 28,000 soldiers in Korea to secure and protect their border but we can’t put 6,000 here to protect our own border?”
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