Note: tip of the corruption iceberg.
3 MCSO workers offered plea bargains
Sentences would vary for them, 16 others linked to cartel
by JJ Hensley - Sept. 9, 2011 10:09 PM
The Arizona Republic
The case began with a bombshell: A confidential source had witnessed
a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy snorting lines of cocaine at a
home near 69th Avenue and Van Buren Street in the summer of 2010.
As if that weren't bad enough, the informant told investigators that
he heard Alfredo Navarrette, a member of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's human-
smuggling unit, bragging about how he escorted cars and trucks
carrying drugs or money to "make sure they would get to their
Within six months of the report of Navarrette snorting cocaine,
investigators got court approval to tap the deputy's cellphone.
Less than a year later, Navarrette, two Maricopa County sheriff's
detention officers and 16 other defendants would be indicted amid
allegations that they had roles in a drug-trafficking organization
that worked with members of the Sinaloan Cartel to bring more than 5
pounds of heroin into the Valley every week.
Now, all 19 defendants have been offered plea bargains, with proposed
sentences ranging from probation to "substantial prison terms"
depending on each defendant's role in the organization, according to
the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.
Navarrette and one of the detention officers implicated in the ring,
Marcella Hernandez, no longer work for the sheriff. Silvia Najera,
the third sheriff's employee indicted, was released on bond and
remains on administrative leave.
Conversations investigators captured through wiretaps reveal the
lengths to which the smuggling suspects went to avoid detection and
the roles each of the accused sheriff's employees played.
Mitch Dooley, an attorney representing Najera, said the conversations
reveal that his client played only a minor role in the ring. Dooley
believes sheriff's officials were intent on arresting as many
employees as possible to deflect attention from fallout Arpaio
experienced in May after an internal investigation led him to fire
two of his top commanders.
"I don't think there's any coincidence," Dooley said of the timing.
"There's really no evidence that Sylvia Najera had anything to do
with any of the people involved in this, other than knowing some of
them. It seems to be guilt by association."
But investigators intercepted phone calls in April and May in which
Najera, Navarrette and another suspect, Hugo Octavio Mejia, made
plans to deposit $48,000 into a construction-company account that
prosecutors claim was being set up to launder money on behalf of the
Attorneys for Navarrette and Hernandez declined to comment.
By the time a plan had been hatched to launder the money through
Mejia's company, the recorded conversations indicate, the ring's
alleged leader, Francisco Arce-Torres, was getting increasingly
anxious about the amount of cash flowing through his drug operation,
according to the court records.
The documents allege that Navarrette's role was as something of a
gofer for human- and drug-smuggling groups. Navarrette is alleged to
have hidden illegal border crossers in his home until they could be
smuggled to another city and to have driven empty drug-hauling
vehicles to California. It's also alleged that at one point he tried
to secure a submachine gun for an unidentified drug-cell member,
according to court records.
Investigators captured Navarrette's attempt to buy a gun during an
early March conversation with a man identified as Cisco. Cisco
initially offered a sawed-off shotgun before Navarrette reminded him
that "those guys (drug-cell members) won't take those kind,"
according to court records. The following week, Cisco phoned
Navarrette offering to sell a submachine gun for $850. Records do not
indicate whether the two sealed the deal.
On more than one occasion, investigators believed they had captured
Arce-Torres directing drug dealers to pick up narcotics at a Surprise
house that Hernandez shared with her brother, Duran Alcantar. They
also heard conversations in which Arce-Torres instructed Alcantar on
how to dilute drugs.
Despite those conversations, records indicate, investigators were
seizing cars with the telltale signs of drug-hauling - but no drugs.
That included a May traffic stop outside Gila Bend.
"Investigators have pulled over and searched three vehicles during
this investigation and . . . dogs alerted to all the vehicles;
however, narcotics were never found in the very thorough searches,"
court records state.
Ultimately, it was the raid on Arce-Torres' home that produced the
most incriminating physical evidence of large-scale drug smuggling,
During the raid on the house in the 6900 block of West Cypress
Street, they reported finding more than $23,000 stashed throughout
the kitchen and more than 5 pounds of heroin inside the oil pan of a
red Chrysler, records state.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/
Note: reader poll today in El Diario de Chihuahua typical results
Saturday September 10, 2011
Do you feel vulnerable to police corruption? results
Yes, I fear for my safety 73%
No, I trust in the justice 20%
Depends on the agency 7%
Total votes: 1375
Fort Bragg missing ammo investigated
Sept. 10, 2011 08:35 AM
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - Officials at Fort Bragg say an investigation is
under way into the disappearance of nearly 14,000 rounds of
ammunition at the Army base.
Staff Sgt. Joshua Ford, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division,
says the ammunition went missing from the 1st Brigade Combat Team at
The Fayetteville Observer reports (http://bit.ly/rcSmoA ) that Ford
believed the ammunition was taken overnight on Tuesday. The 1st
Brigade team was placed on lockdown for a few hours Wednesday night
while officials conducted a search.
The missing ammunition can be used in an M-4 or M-16 assault rifle.
Ford says the 82nd Airborne Division and military police are taking
the matter seriously and that "any amount of ammunition that goes
missing" has "got to be accounted for."
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/