PHOENIX — Seven suspects are in custody after federal and local investigators seized nearly a ton of marijuana Tuesday during the execution of search warrants as part of an ongoing probe targeting a drug-trafficking ring tied to the Phoenix area that is believed to be operating under the direction of a 'Mexican supply source.'
In addition to the arrests, members of the multiagency Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, seized 1,710 pounds of marijuana, 15 weapons – including automatic assault rifles, $66,000 in cash and several vehicles.
"Through our collaborative efforts with state and local law enforcement, we've succeeded in striking a significant blow against a large-scale marijuana trafficking organization suspected of using Phoenix as a distribution center," said Lon D. Weigand, acting deputy special agent in charge for HSI Phoenix. "The success of today's enforcement action is a direct result of the extraordinary support we received from local law enforcement partners and our joint efforts to dismantle this criminal organization are very much ongoing."
Local authorities also cited the importance of Tuesday's takedown.
"All of the narcotics seized and all of the high velocity fire power points to the fact that this enterprise is a very dangerous group of drug traffickers operating in our community," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. "They needed a law enforcement intervention and that's exactly what they got today."
Tuesday's search warrants involved six Phoenix-area residences that were being used by the criminal organization as narcotics stash houses. The seven individuals taken into custody during the enforcement action will face a state grand jury June 19.