PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona authorities say they've dismantled a "massive" drug trafficking ring responsible for smuggling more than $33 million worth of drugs through the state's western desert every month.
Authorities said Monday that the ring is believed to be tied to the Sinaloa cartel -- Mexico's most powerful -- and that it has been in operation for at least the last five years.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers estimate the ring is responsible for smuggling more than 3.3 million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into the country during that time. They estimate profits at somewhere around $2 billion.
ICE and the Pinal County Sheriff's Office arrested 22 suspected smugglers on Thursday, the latest of three busts that followed a 17-month investigation, dubbed "Operation Pipeline Express.”