Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Keeping drugs from Pinal county

TUCSON-It's considered one of the most dangerous areas in Arizona. Vekol Valley in Pinal County borders up against the Tohono O'Odham Nation. It's been the scene of some violent activity and drug smuggling. In May, "Operation Resurgence" took off.

Sgt. Dave Nilson of Arizona Department of Public Safety says, "A significant amount of narcotics and illegal aliens traffic through this area." That's why federal, state, and local agencies are conducted a six day operation. It's part of a tactical detail headed by the DPS.

Pinal County Lt. Matt Thomas says, "The Sinaloa Cartel controls this corridor, and being one of the most ruthless and violent cartels, the violence carries over all the way from Sinaloa to here."

A tactical operations center is on hand to keep track of the agents out in the field. It's also responsible for gathering intelligence and deploying resources out in the field. Those resources include BORTAC and the Arizona National Guard.

During the operation, officers receive information about a white SUV picking up four men in the desert. Marked units converge on the vehicle once it gets on Interstate 8. Four men are arrested, including the 16-year-old female driver.

One of the men in custody tells News 4 he spent seven days in the desert. He's from Mazatlan and was heading to Phoenix to be with his two-year-old daughter. He denies he's smuggling drugs. Lt. Thomas says the marijuana found in the vehicle tells a different story, "Our best guess right now is that they were involved somehow with pushing a load of drugs."

Operation Resurgence netted 60 arrests, over 5,000 pounds of marijuana and nearly $116,000 dollars in cash. Also, five stolen vehicles were recovered.

Sheriff Paul Babeu says "These multi agency details have a much greater impact than just in Pinal County." He also says they need continuous law enforcement presence to help protect America until the border is truly secured."

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