Smuggling investigation nets multiple arrests, drug seizuresPosted: Updated:
FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) -- Pinal County authorities say a drug and human-smuggling investigation has netted nine arrests.
The Sheriff's office says the two-month-long investigation also resulted in the seizure of vehicles used by smugglers, as well as 276 pounds of marijuana.
During September and October of this year, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Anti-Smuggling Enforcement Unit and Homeland Security Investigations have been investigating individuals involved with a network of drug and human smuggling.
The investigation concluded in Phoenix on October 16, 2014 with a number of arrests: Adam Chavarria, 22, Adrian Pasos, 22, Francisco Gastellum Camacho, 19, Edwardo Ontavaris, 16, Daniel Moreno Lugo, 20, Fidel Galaviz, 23, Jesus Navarez Ceballos, 28, Jose Angulo Casas, 24, and Pedro Lavador Ortega, 20. Those suspects have all been arrested and booked into the Maricopa County Jail for Possession of Marijuana for Sale, Transportation of Marijuana and Human Smuggling-related charges.
Detectives were first tipped off about a possible smuggling organization during a traffic stop in August of 2014. During the course of the investigation, detectives contacted Adam Chavarria when he was driving a 2001 Chevy Suburban and Adrian Pasos when he was driving a 2006 Chevy van, after the vehicles both stopped in a parking lot near 59 Avenue and Thomas in Phoenix.
The rear passenger seats of the van had been removed, and detectives could see seven individuals dressed in camouflage along with seven large bundled packs of marijuana. The seven individuals were laying on top of the bundles of marijuana.
The marijuana seized weighed a total of 276 pounds, with an estimated street value of more than $200k. Also seized were the two vehicles and later, a third vehicle, which was also linked to the smuggling organization.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office says that Adam Chavarria admitted to being involved with drug and human smuggling. The seven illegals and the bundles of marijuana were reportedly picked up earlier in the morning south of Arizona City. Adrian was allegedly driving the van and Adam was allegedly working at the guide. Adrian admitted to detectives that he was going to be paid $100 to drive the van.
Also seized from the vehicles were “carpet shoes” which are commonly used by smugglers over their shoes to hide their tracks when walking through the desert. Detectives also seized a Kenwood portable radio and approximately $4,000 in cash.