Manuel A. Breton (Source: Pinal County Sheriff's Office)
PINAL COUNTY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -
Authorities seized approximately 670 pounds of marijuana in two separate incidents in Pinal County Wednesday morning.
Shortly after 2 a.m., a Pinal County sheriff's deputy stopped a northbound 1999 Isuzu Trooper on State Route 347 east of Stanfield after observing what appeared to be cellophane-wrapped bales of marijuana in the back seat.
The deputy stopped the vehicle and confirmed the 13 bundles contained marijuana, according to the sheriff's office.
The deputy arrested the driver, 20-year-old Manuel A. Breton, of Tolleson, on a felony charge of possession/transport of marijuana. The passenger, a Mexican national, was turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.
Breton reportedly admitted during questioning that he was paid by an unidentified person to transport the 255 pounds of pot to a location along Interstate 10.
Around 7 a.m., the sheriff's air unit was called to assist Border Patrol in locating an all-terrain vehicle reportedly carrying a large load of marijuana in the Vekol Valley area of western Pinal County.
The air unit located the Honda ATV parked under a tree in a remote desert area with 414 pounds of pot strapped on the back. No suspects were located nearby.
"Every day, hundreds of pounds of marijuana are transported through Pinal County, from the border to cities and towns across the nation," Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said in a statement. "As well-trained as our deputies are at finding and seizing these loads of marijuana, we can only get a small portion of the drugs coming in from Mexico. The only viable solution to the problem is to secure the border and keep the smugglers incarcerated."