Fake patrol car used to steal marijuana from vehicle near I-8

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

VEKOL VALLEY, Ariz. -- Pinal County sheriff's deputies discovered bales of marijuana inside a fake patrol car and another vehicle off to the side of Interstate 8 near Vekol Valley Saturday night.

At approximately 10 p.m., a deputy found a white Ford Crown Victoria stuck in loose dirt with the trunk partially open and the back windows down. It was approximately 20 feet behind a Ford Taurus, which had crashed into a barbed wire fence.

Deputies said the engines of both vehicles were running, but the occupants were gone.

According to sheriff's spokesman Tim Gaffney, the Crown Victoria had been outfitted to represent a law enforcement vehicle. The car had red and blue strobe lights, orange and white strobe lights, a siren, spotlight and front push bar.

Deputies found a black ski mask and black hooded sweater in the Crown Victoria.

Gaffney said it appears the fake patrol car attempted a traffic stop on the Taurus to steal the marijuana it was carrying.

Deputies recovered 14 bales of marijuana, weighing 319 pounds. The street value is nearly $160,000.

"Drug and human trafficking is a crime my deputies deal with on a daily basis," Sheriff Paul Babeu said. "This case shows how those responsible for drug and human trafficking are attempting to conduct their business under the disguise of law enforcement. This tactic not only puts law enforcement at risk but also the citizens of Pinal County."