NOGALES, Ariz. – Two Mexican men made their initial appearance in Santa Cruz County court Wednesday on state felony drug and weapons charges following their arrest for allegedly possessing nearly 2,500 pounds of marijuana and three firearms in a Rio Rico stash house.
Jose Luis Dominguez de la Rosa, 46, of Santa Cruz, Sonora, Mexico, and Paul Chavez-Portillo, 25, of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, were taken into custody Wednesday by members of the Santa Cruz County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Investigation Task Force, which is led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). They are charged in a criminal complaint with felony possession of marijuana for sale and felony weapons misconduct.
Task force investigators became aware of the stash house after the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office received a telephone tip Tuesday that a residence in Rio Rico was being used as a staging point for smuggled drugs. Task force members initiated surveillance on the house and observed Dominguez de la Rosa and Chavez-Portillo walking out the back door. When investigators attempted to question them, the pair took off running, but the men were quickly apprehended.
After obtaining a state search warrant, task force members entered the house and found 2,499 pounds of marijuana stacked in bales, a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, 9 mm submachine gun, .22-caliber rifle and 57 rounds of ammunition.
The case, which remains under investigation, is being prosecuted by the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office.
The Santa Cruz County HIDTA Investigation Task Force is an HSI-led, multi-agency investigative and interdiction task force in Nogales that combats organized crime in Santa Cruz County. The task force targets drug trafficking organizations and providers, local distributors, stash houses and drug transportation cells. The task force is comprised of full-time members from HSI, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Border Patrol, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, Santa Cruz County Attorney's Office and the Nogales Police Department.
A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.