Man busted smuggling $1.6 M in drugs after being deported

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Francisco Guillermo Morales By Jennifer Thomas Francisco Guillermo Morales By Jennifer Thomas
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

STANFIELD, Ariz. -- The Pinal County Sheriff's Office arrested a man they say was smuggling heroin and methamphetamine just two weeks after he was deported for his involvement with a major drug trafficking ring.

A sheriff's deputy attempted to stop a Nissan sedan traveling over 50 mph in a posted school zone near Stanfield just before 3 p.m. Monday, according to sheriff's office spokesman Elias Johnson.

The vehicle accelerated and the suspect began driving erratically in an attempt to flee.

Johnson said the high-speed pursuit lasted 3 miles and reached speeds of 80 to 100 mph.

The suspect swerved toward a second deputy, who attempted to deploy stop sticks near Barnes and Russell roads. Johnson said the deputy had to dive from the roadway to avoid being hit.

The suspect then drove into the desert and fled on foot. Deputies found him hiding in a canal. He was identified as Francisco Guillermo Morales, 36, an illegal immigrant from Mexico.

Deputies searched his vehicle and found three homemade burlap backpacks containing 45 pounds of black tar heroin, 33 pounds of white tar heroin and 8.8 pounds of crystal methamphetamine. 

The total street value of the drugs was nearly $1.6 million. Detectives have determined Morales was smuggling the narcotics for the Sinaloa Drug Cartel in Mexico.

Morales will be prosecuted in Pinal County Superior Court on charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, aggravated assault, felony flight and smuggling narcotics.

Morales was arrested Oct. 13 at one of the residences targeted as part of Operation Pipeline Express. Johnson said there wasn't sufficient evidence at the scene to charge Morales as part of the operation so ICE deported him back to Mexico.