Authorities break up drug trafficking ring in Southern Arizona

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Luis Luna remains at large By Jennifer Thomas Luis Luna remains at large By Jennifer Thomas
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Ronaldo Acuna Urcadez remains at large By Jennifer Thomas Ronaldo Acuna Urcadez remains at large By Jennifer Thomas
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Hector David Romo-Morales remains at large By Jennifer Thomas Hector David Romo-Morales remains at large By Jennifer Thomas

TUCSON -- Authorities say they've broken up a drug trafficking ring believed to be responsible for bringing more than 40,000 pounds of marijuana into southern Arizona.

The three-year investigation was dubbed "Operation Vaqueros" for the cowboy attire worn by members of the drug trafficking organization.

U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis K. Burke said the organization employed advanced counter-surveillance, ramp trucks to overcome vehicle barriers at the border, and hidden vehicle compartments.

The investigation has yielded 39 state and federal indictments. Thirty-four people were arrested, including an employee of the Cochise County Attorney's Office who allegedly provided confidential information to one of the drug traffickers in exchange for money.

Twelve people have been indicted on federal conspiracy charges. They are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute over 1,000 kilograms of marijuana.

They have been identified as Jorge Adalberto Campos, 30; Magda Leticia Morales, 32; James Angelo Lull, 60; Maria Angelica Rodriguez, 36; Pedro Ballesteros, Jr., 24; and Linda Ann Urcadez, 41.

A conviction carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, a $4 million fine or both.

Six of those indicted federally remain at large and are believed to be in Mexico. They are identified as Ronaldo Acuna Urcadez, 41; Hector David Romo-Morales, 43; Luis Marcial Luna-Alamillo, 38; Ignacio Alfredo Enrives-Martinez, 44; Arnulfo Beltran Sosa, 49; and Emmanuel Jesus Castro, 31. Contact DEA Sierra Vista at 520-458-3691 or 1-866-DHS-2ICE with information on the whereabouts of these individuals.

The remaining 27 defendants were load drivers for the organization and were prosecuted for drug trafficking charges in federal and state courts.