MCSO seizes 51 pounds of methamphetamine from Phoenix home


by Jennifer Thomas

Posted on June 4, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 7 at 11:26 AM

PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said his specialized team of drug investigators who head the Arizona HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas) Task Force seized 51 pounds of methamphetamine from a house in west Phoenix.

Arpaio said it was one of the largest meth seizures in the history of the sheriff's office.

"This will put a dent in the trafficking," he said. "I mean, we don't seize this every day. Marijuana you can almost seize every day, but this type of drug you don't seize every day."

Arpaio said investigators were able to track the drugs to a home near 47th Avenue and Thomas Road. The meth was worth nearly $1 million.

Phoenix resident Armando Chairez, 25, was taken into custody by deputies on felony drug charges.

At the time of his arrest, in addition to the huge quantity of meth, Chairez also was in possession of cocaine, a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and about $3,000 in cash.

Arpaio said Chairez has a criminal record.

Arpaio said there were no signs of a lab in the house and added that the drugs came from Mexico.

"You don't see many meth labs any more in Maricopa County," he said. "To fill the void created by our efficiency in shutting them down here, methamphetamine labs have sprung up across the border in Mexico.

"The labs in Mexico are capable of producing massive quantities of high-quality methamphetamine," Arpaio added. "Our challenge here at home is now finding the stash houses and the buyers, which we in law enforcement can do but it's difficult and time consuming. This find was a big feather in our hat."

From 2004 to 2013, a total of 173 labs were dismantled by the HIDTA group, which is under Arpaio’s direction. (HIDTA consists of officers from Phoenix, Tempe and Buckeye police departments, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Arizona Attorney General's Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration.)

The investigation is ongoing.