Wednesday, October 22, 2014



Note: The seven were most likely the "mules" carrying the dope across the border.

Pinal deputies cap probe into smuggling ring with arrests, seizures

Posted: Oct 21, 2014 8:02 AM MST
Updated: Oct 21, 2014 8:08 AM MST
By Steve Stout

Seven undocumented immigrants from Mexico were dressed in camouflage and found sitting atop these bundles of marijuana in this van that was stopped in a Phoenix parking lot Thursday. (Source: Pinal County Sheriff's Office)

A simple traffic stop in August led to nine arrests and the seizure of several vehicles and $200,000 worth of marijuana, capping an investigation into a network of drug and human smuggling, a Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

Adam Chavarria and Adrian Pasos, both 22 and from Casa Grande, were driving vehicles that stopped in a parking lot near 59th Avenue and Thomas Road in Phoenix on Thursday.

Phoenix police and members of the PCSO Anti-Smuggling Enforcement Unit and Home Security investigators found the rear seats of a 2006 Chevrolet van driven by Pasos had been removed and seven undocumented immigrants dressed in camouflage sitting on top of bundles of marijuana, the spokesman said. Chavarria was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban and was acting as a guide during their trip.

Pasos admitted to deputies he was being paid to drive the van that picked up the immigrants and marijuana south of Arizona City.

Deputies said the marijuana weighed 276 pounds with an estimated street value of $200,250, the spokesman said. Deputies also found "carpet shoes" commonly used by traffickers to cover their tracks in the desert.

The investigation began with a tip during the August traffic stop about the smuggling network and the investigation ended with Thursday's arrests, the spokesman said.

Law enforcement seized resupply vehicles and arrested several other individuals involved with drug and human smuggling, the spokesman said. In Thursday's stop, deputies also seized $4,000 in cash and a portable Kenwood radio.

A search of the residence where Chavarria and Pasos lived resulted it he seizer of a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe tied to the smuggling operation, the spokesman said.

Chavarria and Pasos were arrested and booked into the Maricopa County Jail for possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana and human smuggling related charges.

Also arrested and booked on similar charges were:

Francisco Gastellum Camacho, 19, of Mexico
Edwardo Ontavaris, 16, of Mexico
Daniel Moreno Lugo, 20, of Mexico
Fidel Galaviz, 23, of Mexico
Jesus Navarez Ceballos, 28, of Mexico
Jose Angulo Casas, 24, of Mexico
Pedro Lavador Ortega, 20, of Mexico


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