TUCSON, Ariz. - About half of the members of a large drug trafficking organization have been taken into custody and face a long list of charges..
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced the arrests of 21 of 46 suspected members of the Jesus Valencia Rodriguez drug trafficking organization who work on behalf of the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.
They face charges of illegally conducting an enterprise, conspiracy, transportation of marijuana for sale, money laundering, participating in a criminal syndicate, smuggling of human beings and use of a wire communication in a drug related transaction.
“This operation has effectively dismantled the Arizona-based transportation and distribution cells of the Jesus Valencia Rodriguez organization,” Horne said. “These suspects used remote areas of the Tohono O’Odham Nation in Arizona to funnel drugs and humans into the United States, and to re-direct racketeering proceeds and weapons back into Mexico. This criminal enterprise was a well-organized operation that constantly worked against law enforcement interdiction efforts with sophisticated counter-surveillance methods, including using human spotters embedded on U.S. soil, night vision equipment and radio communication. All of these activities are an outrageous affront to public safety and to the sovereignty not only of the United States, but the Tohono O’Odham Nation as well. Because of the dedicated work of numerous law enforcement professionals, these suspects are now behind bars.”
Since 2008, Rodriguez was identified as the Mexico-based gate keeper working for the Caborca-based Paez-Soto cell of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Authorities allege Rodriquez is responsible for coordinating importation of multi-ton quantities of marijuana and illegal aliens from Mexico into the U.S. through the San Miguel Gate area and the smuggling of bulk drug proceeds and assault weapons back into Mexico.
Intelligence has linked over 150 drug seizures since May 2008 totaling approximately 28,000 pounds of marijuana.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Border Patrol, Tohono O’Odham Nation Police Department, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, South Tucson Police Department, and Arizona IMPACT, which is coordinated through the Arizona Department of Public Safety all worked together to make the arrests.