MARICOPA, Ariz. – A farm worker was assaulted when he attempted to stop a suspect following a vehicle pursuit in Pinal County Sunday morning.
Just after 8 a.m., the Arizona Department of Public Safety sent out an Attempt to Locate after receiving information regarding two or three people loading bundles of marijuana into a green Ford Taurus near Interstate 8 and Stanfield Road.
A deputy with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office located a vehicle matching the description northbound on White and Parker Road about 20 minutes later. A traffic stop was initiated and the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed. Sheriff's spokesman Tim Gaffney said the vehicle was traveling in excess of 100 mph during the pursuit.
Deputies attempted on several occasions to put out "spike strips" in an attempt to deflate the vehicle's tires. Gaffney said during one of the attempts, the driver of the vehicle swerved and almost struck a deputy.
After driving at high speeds for nearly 35 minutes, deputies could see thick black smoke coming from the vehicle's underside. The vehicle came to an abrupt stop on Amarillo Valley just south of Teel Road and two Hispanic males ran in opposite directions from the vehicle.
Gaffney said the driver ran through a nearby dairy farm as deputies were chasing him. As the suspect ran through a feed yard full of cattle, a worker who saw the chase tripped the suspect, who fell forward face-first into cow manure. A cow that was startled by the commotion stepped on the suspect while he was on the ground.
The suspect got up and reportedly punched the worker several times in the face as the man tried to restrain him for deputies.
Deputies reached the men and took the suspect into custody. He was identified as Ruben Soto-Gonzalez, 25, of Casa Grande. Gaffney said he was carrying a Motorola handheld radio when he fled.
The dairy worker's nose and mouth were bleeding and swollen. He drove himself to an urgent care center for treatment of his injuries.
The passenger was caught nearby hiding underneath a bush. He was identified as Daniel Aguilar-Alvarez, 40, of Mexico.
Gaffney said deputies found three packaged bundles of marijuana inside the vehicle. The marijuana weighed a total of 160 pounds and had a street value of $120,000.
The two suspects were transported to the Pinal County Jail. Soto-Gonzalez was booked for two counts of aggravated assault, felony flight, possession of marijuana for sale and possession of marijuana. Aguilar-Alvarez was booked for possession of marijuana for sale and possession of marijuana.