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5 arrested, 2 tons of pot seized in Southern Arizona drug bust

5 arrested, 2 tons of pot seized in Southern Arizona drug bust

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — Five men, including three undocumented Mexican nationals, face multiple state felony drug charges for their alleged roles operating a Southern Arizona drug stash house, following a joint enforcement effort July 11 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), U.S. Border Patrol and the Sierra Vista Police Department. Authorities seized nearly two tons of marijuana during the bust.

The following individuals were arrested and are pending prosecution in Cochise County Superior Court:

  • Gadhi Corella, 22, of Tucson;
  • Heinz Scriba, 55, of Sierra Vista;
  • Francisco Lara-Delgado, 35, of Mexico;
  • Omar Galindo Islava, 25, of Mexico; and
  • Mark Jesus Gomez-Gallegos, 33, of Mexico.

During the course of an ongoing drug smuggling investigation, HSI Douglas special agents developed information about a possible drug stash house located in Whetstone, Arizona. Agents initiated surveillance on the property and observed a pickup truck towing a flatbed trailer pull up to the house. Subsequently, several individuals were seen loading it with bales of marijuana. Agents then alerted Sierra Vista police.

HSI special agents followed the truck into nearby Sierra Vista, where it pulled into a parking lot. Corella, a passenger in the truck, attempted to flee on foot. He was pursued by police officers while an additional patrol car continued following the truck. Police stopped the truck for a traffic violation and discovered more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana bundled and partially covered in the trailer. They arrested Scriba, the driver. Corella was also caught and arrested.

After obtaining a search warrant, authorities searched the Whetstone house and discovered an additional 135 bundles of marijuana weighing more than 2,600 pounds inside. Lara-Delgado and Islava were arrested at the house. Gomez-Gallegos was arrested July 14 by HSI and Sierra Vista police.