CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — Two Mexican citizens unlawfully in possession of nine weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition were arrested after a lengthy vehicle pursuit Monday following a joint operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Pinal County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol.
As part of an ongoing drug and weapons smuggling investigation, HSI agents and PCSO deputies identified a gray four-door sedan suspected of being used to transport drugs and weapons back and forth from Phoenix to the Mexican border. Agents located the sedan at a gas station in Maricopa, Ariz., but when PCSO deputies attempted to stop the vehicle for a traffic violation, the driver failed to yield and fled south. A lengthy pursuit ensued. HSI requested support from CBP Office of Air and Marine (OAM) helicopters and the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) to help track the fleeing vehicle.
After a 20-mile pursuit, HSI and PCSO found the vehicle disabled beside a dirt road in a desert area south of I-8 at Smith Road. The sedan's trunk and doors were open. No occupants were found in the vehicle, but a substantial amount of ammunition was discovered in the trunk. OAM and BORTAC conducted an aerial search of the area and located two suspects several hundred yards from the abandoned car.
Javier Garcia-Torres, 39, and Horacio Rios-Trapero, 22, both illegal aliens from Mexico, were booked into the Pinal County Jail on state charges for felony flight from law enforcement. The men are expected to face federal weapons charges within the next few days.
"Through the strong partnerships we have with the Pinal County Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies, we are identifying these smuggling networks and deterring their ability to move contraband in Arizona," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Arizona. "It takes a team effort to disrupt the smuggling organizations working here, and my agents are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Pinal County and the Border Patrol to protect our citizens from criminal activity."
"The drug cartels of Mexico have shown countless times they have very little regard for human life both here in the United States and Mexico," said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. "The weapons, ammunition and other supplies seized in this case were headed to Mexico to be used by these same cartel members. We are thankful for the help from ICE HSI and the U.S. Border Patrol for not only this case but many others. These cooperative efforts need to remain strong to help protect our citizens from this violence."
HSI and PCSO located several large backpacks approximately 50 yards from the vehicle. Inside, they found numerous weapons, magazines, holsters and two-way radios. Among the items seized from the vehicle and backpacks were:
- Two AK style 7.62 rifles,
- Six pistols, including a .40 caliber Browning HiPoint submachine gun with laser sight,
- Four handheld radios,
- Seven sets of binoculars,
- Six cell phones,
- 1,097 rounds of 5.7 FNH,
- 224 rounds of 9mm ammo,
- 1,000 rounds of .22 caliber ammo,
- 287 rounds of 7.62 ammo, and
- Drug, money and weapons ledgers.