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ICE seizes 3,000 pounds of marijuana in Arizona

DOUGLAS, Ariz. - A collaborative investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Douglas Police Department and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) resulted in the seizure of 3,059 pounds of marijuana from two pickup trucks in Douglas, Ariz., Friday.

HSI agents were working on a marijuana smuggling investigation when they learned that a separate investigation by the Douglas Police Department was leading both agencies to a house on N. Kings Highway in Douglas. The investigations were merged and, with assistance from DPS, law enforcement initiated surveillance on the house.

Late Friday afternoon, agents and officers observed two Chevrolet pickup trucks with Mexican license plates depart the residence. Agents followed the vehicles and observed that the pickup beds were covered with plywood, a common technique smugglers use to conceal drug bundles.

While travelling north on State Route 191, DPS and Cochise County Sheriff's officers attempted to stop the vehicles, which failed to yield. Douglas Police Department officers successfully deployed tire deflation devices, but the trucks continued to flee and eventually split up with one continuing north on State Route 191 and the other turning east on Davis Road.

After a three-mile pursuit through the desert, one truck was found abandoned in a small wash approximately 13 miles north of Douglas. The other truck was found abandoned near Elfrida, Ariz. After extensive searches of both areas, agents and officers were not able to track down any of the suspects.

Both trucks were subsequently transported to the HSI office in Douglas, where a thorough search yielded approximately 3059.5 pounds of marijuana from both trucks. On Saturday morning, agents and officers from HSI, Douglas PD, DPS and the U.S. Border Patrol executed a federal search warrant at the house on Kings Highway. A stolen Nissan pickup truck, modified to smuggle large quantities of drugs, was recovered at the residence in addition to other evidence of drug smuggling.

ICE HSI is continuing to investigate this drug smuggling operation.