Drug Cartels in Pinal County, Arizona

One of 15 Signs Posted to Warn Tourists in Pinal County, Arizona

Some border areas in Pinal County, Arizona are too dangerous for tourists.

Today, sheriffs in Pinal County found five deceased people who were likely the victims of a drug or human smuggling ring, most likely it was drug trafficking -

ABC News: “Five people found burned beyond recognition in an abandoned SUV in an area of Arizona frequented by smugglers were likely the victims of one of the same drug cartels that have ravaged parts of Mexico with their rampant violence, the local sheriff said today…

Fast & Furious weapons were found in Vekol Valley last year according to ABC News -

…The Vekol Valley is located 70 miles north of the U.S.-Mexican border. Babeu called the area a “hotbed for human and drug smuggling.”

The federal government put up 15 billboards that read “Danger Warning, Travel Not Recommended, Drug Smuggling, Active and Armed Gunmen” in the area along Interstate 8.

Last year, the Vekol Valley was the site of the largest drug bust in the history of Arizona***

Seventy-six members of the Sinaloa cartel were arrested in the bust, known as Operation Pipeline Express. The suspects had 108 weapons, including scoped rifles, AK47s and two weapons from the U.S. government’s Fast and Furious program…

***The Pinal County’s Department of Sheriffs found $9 million of illegal drugs in one traffic stop last year -

…On June 24th, 2011 at 8:56 p.m. a Pinal County Sheriff’s Deputy attempted to stop a 2005 Nissan Armada as it was traveling northbound on State Route 347 just south of the City of Maricopa. When the vehicle stopped, the front seat passenger opened his door and fled on foot eastbound through the desert. The passenger was described as a Hispanic male wearing a blue and grey striped shirt and jeans.

The female driver was later identified as Jessica Velasco (age 28 of Stanfield). Inside of the Nissan, deputies could see in plain view several packages of what they believed to be illegal drugs. When asked about the drugs, Jessica then told deputies, “Nothing in the vehicle is mine, the vehicle belongs to my husband and he is going to be pissed, I’m not a bad guy, just did a bad thing.”

The investigation revealed several individuals had smuggled the drugs from Mexico through the desert and up into Pinal County where it was loaded into the Nissan Armada for delivery to various locations throughout the United States. The vehicle contained 196.9 pounds of Methamphetamines and 102.65 pounds of Black Tar Heroin.

Jessica Velasco was booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for one count each of the following: Possession of a Dangerous Drug, Possession of a Dangerous Drug for Sale, Transportation of a Dangerous Drug, Possession of a Narcotic Drug, Possession of a Narcotic Drug for Sale and Transportation of a Narcotic Drug. She is currently being held on a $500,000 bond.

Due to the large quantity of drugs which were seized on this case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) responded to assist with processing and evidence collection…

If this was only one traffic stop, can you imagine what is being missed?

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Sara Noble

Sara Noble

Sara Noble, B.A. English Literature, St. John's University; M.S. Education, M.A. Administration, Hofstra University. World traveler. Worked with children as a teacher and school administrator for three decades. Published in educational journals, children's mystery magazines, and was an editor at This Week Magazine. I am devoted to an America that promotes free enterprise and ingenuity, values the Constitution as intended, and does not encourage a nanny state under the casuistic banner of "the common good". 

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