On October 14, 2009, the Pinal County Narcotics Task Force (organized by your Sheriff’s Office), DEA Special Agents and the AZ Attorney General’s Office executed 10 search warrants of residential and commercial properties and arrested or had warrants issued for 33 suspects. This operation has taken down a Drug Trade Organization (DTO) operating between Mexico and Pinal County.
We called this operation “Los Tusa” which was named after one of the local streets involved in our investigation. This effort started with the seizure of $228,569 in U.S. Currency, which was discovered during a routine traffic stop by a Pinal County Sheriff's Deputy in the Maricopa/Stanfield area of western Pinal County. Following the cash seizure, under cover investigators with the Pinal County Narcotics Task Force opened several investigations and seized 339 lbs of marijuana.
We then tracked several individuals who were transporting large quantities of marijuana from Mexico, through the Tohono O'Odham Indian Reservation and into Pinal County. Information and intelligence was gathered and ultimately resulted in multiple arrests, the seizure of several large loads of marijuana, and multiple vehicle seizures. Throughout the 8 month investigation PCNTF detectives identified additional ranking members of the organization; several stash houses, routes of operation and personal residences.
In July of 2009, we contacted the Drug Enforcement Administration, Phoenix, Arizona Division and requested their assistance with continuing efforts on the dismantling of this drug trafficking organization. The Attorney General's Office was later contacted when it was learned that the investigation would cross county and possibly state lines. In addition, investigators learned of a conspiracy to impersonate law enforcement in order to rob, and possibly murder, other competing drug traffickers. Investigators gathered intelligence which led to the interception of the would-be assailants and ultimately preventing the robbery and possible murder of their targets.
Pinal County has always been a haven for drug and human smuggling. This is a historic take down of criminal traffickers and should serve as a signal of what our citizens and criminals can expect to continue. This investigation was fully developed by local law enforcement and due to the size and scope of this criminal organization, we asked the DEA and the Attorney General for help. Mesa, Tempe and DPS SWAT joined our PCSO multi-agency SWAT in the actual take-down.
I thank all our law enforcement partners for their amazing support and ask them to standby for further operations. Together, we made sure the good guys won a big victory against those who break our laws and corrupt our society with drugs. We shall continue to attack criminal operations and take not only their drugs - but their cash, their vehicles, their houses and send them to prison.
The 10 month long, Operation Los Tusa, investigation resulted in:
• $418,640 in cash seizures
• 3,500 lbs of Marijuana Seizures
• 21 vehicle seizures including a “fake” police vehicle
• 10 search warrants of residential and commercial properties
• 13 arrest prior to outside agency involvement
• 6 arrests during take-down operation and 21 indictments
• 9 weapons seizures, including assault rifles
• Numerous residential properties, 20 more vehicles and numerous bank accounts are pending civil seizure with a possible value of $2-3 million dollars.
I appreciate our 700 full time employees who have embraced the many changes since I became Sheriff. Their passion and dedication to serve our Pinal families is simply amazing. I’m very proud of their hard work ethic and their discipline, as their work load (crime) has increased. Together, we are fully committed to improve operations and law enforcement service, until we attain our goal in becoming the finest Sheriff’s Office in Arizona.