NOGALES, Ariz. — Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) interdicted a large drug smuggling attempt Wednesday in Nogales, resulting in the arrest of three suspects and the seizure of more than 2,300 pounds of marijuana.
HSI special agents, along with members of the Santa Cruz County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Investigative Task Force and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, were conducting roving surveillance in a suspected contraband smuggling area, when they observed the driver of a white Dodge Cargo van commit a moving violation and initiated a traffic stop. A consensual search of the vehicle resulted in the discovery of 12 boxes containing more than 932 pounds of marijuana and the arrest of the van's two occupants. Information provided by the suspects during the stop took agents to a warehouse, where a search led to the seizure of an additional 1,370 pounds of marijuana and the arrest of a third suspect.
"Through hard work and patience, HSI agents are identifying the criminal organizations smuggling narcotics through the Nogales area and are holding them responsible for their illicit activities," said Eric Balliet, assistant special agent in charge of HSI Nogales. "We will continue to target their workers, their vehicles and their stash houses until these smuggling organizations have no place left to operate in Nogales."
Drug trafficking charges are currently pending against all three suspects as HSI's investigation continues.