CASA GRANDE – Deputies are continuing with their investigation of a double murder in the desert in Pinal County.
The deaths took place near Casa Grande, a known smuggling corridor. Investigators are trying to figure out who the victims are and who killed them. Detectives say they are not sure if the victims were illegal immigrants or drug smugglers or someone else.
One of them reportedly called 911 saying, in Spanish, that he and his friend had been shot. The GPS on his phone led deputies to them.
A Department of Public Safety helicopter airlifted the bodies of the two men so that they can be identified.
Pinal County deputies say they believe the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel has taken control of this corridor. Lt. Tamatha Villar explains, “These are paramilitary organizations coming in assassination teams trying to take control of this desert. They don’t care who they kill or whose lives are lost."
The overnight murders are no surprise to the group that runs www.secureborderintel.org. They capture illegal activity on surveillance cameras in the desert. An organizer talked to us on condition of anonymity. Daniel tells 3TV, “When you're able to see it on video, the real proof in front of you, there's no denying what’s going on."
He says his camera was yards away from the latest murder site and it shows two men armed with assault rifles.
The fatal shootings took place in the same area where a Pinal County deputy says he was shot and wounded by smugglers carrying heavy loads on their backs.
Daniel says, “They have free reign of the desert and they use it."
The paths are well-worn by illegal immigrants, drug smugglers, and thieves who ambush the smugglers and steal their drugs. It is unclear which category the murdered men and their attackers fall into.
Daniel says, “I’m not sure what it's going to take, how many more will die before the government gets serious about keeping us safe around the border."
Investigators have not identified any suspects for these latest murders. Deputies found a birth certificate on one of the bodies but say it was destroyed in the shooting so they are still not sure where these men are from.