Wednesday, June 29, 2011

$9 million in drugs seized in Pinal County

Mark Cowling/Florence Reminder, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu surveys a huge payload of drugs seized south of Maricopa.

MARICOPA — A Stanfield woman is behind bars, held on a $500,000 bond after she was caught with more than $9 million in drugs on Friday.

At about 9 p.m. a Pinal County sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop a 2005 Nissan Armada SUV traveling north on Arizona 347 south of Maricopa. The vehicle came to a stop and a man fled from the passenger seat east into the desert. The man, described as Hispanic, was reported wearing a blue-and-gray-striped shirt and jeans.
PCSO spokesman Tim Gaffney said the driver, Jessica Guevara Velasco, 28, of Stanfield was apprehended. Deputies could see several packages of what they believed to be illegal drugs in plain sight within the vehicle.

The vehicle contained 169.9 pounds of methamphetamine and 102.7 pounds of black tar heroin, total value nearly $9 million. Gaffney said the street value could be as high as $15 million to $20 million in some places.

Gaffney said investigators determined several individuals were involved in smuggling the drugs from Mexico through the desert and into Pinal County, where they were loaded into the Nissan for delivery to various locations within the United States.

Velasco was booked into jail Saturday for possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a dangerous drug for sale, transportation of a dangerous drug, possession of a narcotic drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale and transportation of a narcotic drug.

Gaffney said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded to assist with processing and evidence collection due to the large quantity of drugs.

“We appreciated the assistance of our federal law enforcement partners with this huge seizure,” said Sheriff Paul Babeu. “The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office continues to step up our enforcement efforts against the drug cartels of Mexico. As a result, we were able to seize nearly nine million dollars worth of illegal drugs before they could be distributed throughout the United States.”


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