Feds bust Tucson based smuggling ringPosted: Updated:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Federal investigators arrested eight people connected to a family-run drug smuggling and money laundering ring based in Tucson. The five year investigation found that the Troncoza family used a seafood company, hot dog stand and trucking company as a front to ship drugs across the country.
Cash, weapons, homes and expensive jewelry are just some of the items seized by the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS Criminal Investigations in "Operation Frozen Freight."
"Tucson is a major hub for marijuana and all other types of drug trafficking," said Special Agent Ramona Sanchez of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Investigators say this drug trafficking organization was led by Jonathan Ortiz Troncoza and several members of his family.
They allegedly shipped marijuana and cocaine from Tucson to Ohio in SUV's and semis equipped with refrigerated trailers and used up to $5 million of proceeds from the sale of the drugs to purchase, lease or rent properties, vehicles and jewelry.
"With the help of the IRS we were able to follow the money," said SA Sanchez. "And it's funny cause while money's the main motivation for drug traffickers, it's also the number one vulnerability."
The DEA says one Tucson building associated with the ring was a warehouse on Golf Links, just off Aviation Highway, where sometime in the past five years, investigators say the Troncoza family operated a false business as a front.
Federal agents also seized weapons and a Cadillac from a home on Holly Stravenue in Tucson last January.
"This family is very much in trouble," added SA Sanchez. "So we have really taken away the proceeds that could have been used to send another shipment of marijuana and cocaine."
Drugs shipped by means of a well-crafted and elaborate system that is officially finished.
"That's the kind of damage law enforcement likes to inflict, by attacking the drug trade at the financial core," said Sanchez.
The eight people arrested this week face federal charges that include conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, money laundering, and illegal financial transactions to further the conspiracy.