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Narcotics
03/08/2016

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7 arrested as DEA, HSI dismantle southern Arizona drug trafficking ring

TUCSON, Ariz. – Seven alleged members of a southern Arizona-based drug trafficking ring suspected of recruiting drivers at area schools and skate parks have been arrested on state criminal charges stemming from a joint probe by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The arrests, which occurred Thursday, are the latest development in a long-term investigation launched in 2014 targeting a drug trafficking organization allegedly spearheaded by Erick Erives, the son of current DEA fugitive Ignacio Alfredo Erives-Martinez. According to the indictment, the ring relied on an extensive network of drivers and load coordinators, many of whom were recruited at a high school and skate park in Sierra Vista. The ring’s members would conceal the smuggled contraband, including marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin, at multiple stash houses in Tucson, Sierra Vista, Bisbee, Huachuca City and Naco. So far, the investigation has resulted in the seizure of nearly 1,600 pounds of marijuana, more than a pound of heroin, and other drugs, including “Molly” (MDMA) and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

“HSI will continue working with our local, state and federal partners to ensure that those who’re allegedly engaged in smuggling large quantities of contraband into the United States are brought to justice,” said Matthew C. Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Phoenix. “These arrests and seizures demonstrate what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies pool their resources, intelligence an expertise to attack and dismantle criminal organizations involved in illicit activities that pose a significant public safety threat.”

The defendants charged in the case are named in a 28-count state criminal indictment, which alleges a variety of violations, including drug trafficking, money laundering, and fraud. Those taken into custody during last week’s enforcement operation are:

  • Erick A. Erives, 29, of Tucson;
  • Sorina N. Morales, 28, of Tucson;
  • Patrick J. Bramwell, 20, of Sierra Vista;
  • Cody D. Avery, 22, of Sierra Vista;
  • Mercedes V. Anello, 21, of Huachuca City;
  • Francisco Chavez-Bustamonte, 26, of Sierra Vista; and
  • Lorenzo Cordova-Bustamante, 54, of Sierra Vista.

“Drug traffickers cannot conceal their illegal activity in our small towns in an effort to evade law enforcement,” said Doug Coleman special agent in charge of DEA Phoenix. “The DEA will find you, investigate your activity and ensure you face justice for your drug crimes in our communities.”

In addition to special agents from HSI and the DEA, the two-day enforcement operation included personnel from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol, and the sheriff’s offices of Cochise and the Pima counties. The prosecution is being handled by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.  

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/09/2016