TUCSON, Ariz. — Eleven members of a drug trafficking ring in the Naco, Ariz., area face state criminal charges in connection with a multi-agency probe that has resulted in the seizure of more than 15 tons of marijuana and a small amount of cocaine in the last year.
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced the arrests Friday following a joint investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Those arrested face numerous charges including conspiracy, money laundering and the illegal transportation of marijuana and cocaine for sale.
The defendants charged in the case are:
- Jose Aguilera, 52, of Naco;
- Adrian Figueroa, 30, of Tucson;
- Ruben Guzman, 20, of Naco, Mexico;
- Guillermina Jimenez, 42, of Bisbee, Ariz.;
- Rogelio Morales, 33, of Bisbee;
- Regina Ann Naputi, 29, of Sierra Vista, Ariz.;
- Elueterio Perez, 24, of Naco, Mexico;
- Alejandro Quiroz, 18, of Bisbee;
- Hipolito Ramirez, 54, of Naco;
- Laura Rascon, 32, of Naco, Mexico; and
- Maria Cristina Rascon, 49, of Tucson.
According to the criminal complaint, the enterprise had been smuggling large amounts of marijuana and cocaine into the U.S. for more than 15 years. Authorities estimate the street value of the drugs seized in the case at between $9 million and $15 million.
The organization utilized backpackers, vehicles and other methods to smuggle drugs from Mexico to stash houses in Naco, Bisbee and Tucson, Ariz. The group also smuggled large amounts of U.S. currency back into Mexico.
"I want to thank the dedicated law enforcement personnel from all the state, local and federal agencies that worked cooperatively to make these arrests," Horne said. "Obviously, it is crucial that law enforcement work together to combat the ongoing scourge of poisonous drugs crossing into Arizona. These operations breed violence in both Arizona and Mexico, and my office will continue to work vigorously to bring these drug trafficking organizations to justice."
The investigation was led by HSI and DEA, with assistance from the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Marshal's Service, Bisbee Police Department, Sierra Vista Police Department, Tucson Police Department, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Arizona Attorney General's Office.
The case is being prosecuted by Arizona Assistant Attorney General Nanette Morrow.