Friday, December 6, 2013

Two PCSO smuggling pursuits end near Maricopa

Two recent pursuits of drug and human smuggling suspects, by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, have ended in the agricultural area south of Maricopa.  In one instance, a farm worker was assaulted.

On Sunday, December 1st, at 8:03 am, the Arizona Department of Public Safety sent out an “Attempt to Locate” after they received information regarding two or three individuals loading bundles of marijuana into a green Ford Taurus near Interstate 8 and Stanfield Road.

At 8:22 am, a PCSO deputy located a vehicle matching the description northbound on White and Parker Road. A traffic stop was initiated and the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was traveling in excess of 100 mph during the pursuit. Deputies attempted on several occasions to put out “spike strips” in an attempt to deflate the vehicles tires to end the pursuit.

While one of the deputies was attempting to lay out the “spike strips,” the driver of the vehicle swerved and almost stuck him.

After driving at high speeds for nearly 35 minutes, deputies could see thick black smoke coming from the vehicles underside. The vehicle came to an abrupt stop on Amarillo Valley just south of Teel Road. The driver and passenger door opened and two Hispanic males ran in opposite directions from the vehicle.

The driver ran through a nearby dairy farm as deputies were chasing him. As he ran through a feed yard full of cattle, a dairy worker who saw deputies chasing him tripped the suspect who fell forward face first into cow manure. A cow who was startled by the commotion stepped on the suspect while he was on the ground. The suspect got up and punched the dairy worker several times in the face as the worker tried to restrain him for deputies. When deputies reached the men, the suspect was taken into custody. The suspect initially lied and provided a false name (Roman Martinez Lopez) but after his fingerprints were taken, deputies learned his real name was Ruben Soto-Gonzalez (age 25 of Casa Grande). Soto-Gonzalez was also carrying a Motorola handheld radio when he fled.

The dairy worker drove himself to Urgent Care for the injuries he received while attempting to restrain Soto-Gonzalez. His nose and mouth were both bleeding and swollen.

The passenger was caught nearby hiding underneath a bush. He was later identified as Daniel Aguilar-Alvarez (age 40 of Mexico).

Inside of the vehicle, deputies found three packaged bundles of marijuana which weighed a total of 160 pounds with a street value to $120,000.

Ruben Soto Gonzalez was booked into the Pinal County Jail for two counts of Aggravated Assault, Felony Flight, Possession of Marijuana for Sale and Possession of Marijuana. Daniel Aguilar Alvarez was booked into the Pinal County Jail for Possession of Marijuana for Sale and Possession of Marijuana.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “I want to thank the dairy worker for his bravery while helping us arrest a fleeing felon who obviously didn’t care about anybody’s safety but his own. Deputies and citizens continue to deal with the consequences of an unsecured southern border.”

The second incident occurred on Wednesday, December 4th, at 4:55 am. A PCSO Deputy who was working with the West Desert Task Force attempted to stop a 2004 Chevy truck after he observed it speeding on Highway 84. When the deputy activated his emergency lights, the vehicle failed to yield and a pursuit was initiated. The vehicle eventually stopped after it ran into a concrete culvert as it attempted to turn into a farm field in the area of White and Parker Road.

The doors to the truck opened and three Hispanic males ran in a southeasterly direction. The deputy chased the driver on foot who was later identified as Ignacio Nunez (age 25 of Phoenix) and was able to take him into custody. The other two males continued to run.

Inside of the bed of the truck, deputies located 20 bundles of packaged marijuana. The marijuana weighed 420 pounds with an estimated street value of $315,000. Also seized was a Motorola handheld radio along with several batteries for the radio.

Nunez said that he was offered $2,000 to pick up the marijuana and illegals from a location south of Highway 84 and drive them to Phoenix. He stopped along the highway and his truck was loaded with the marijuana by individuals who were hiding by the side of the road. After his truck was loaded, two of the illegals got into his truck. Nunez said he knew it was illegal but he wanted the money to help his sick parents in Mexico.

Members of the U.S. Border Patrol responded and assisted deputies in searching for the two passengers who fled on foot but they were never located.

Ignacio Nunez was booked for Possession of Marijuana for Sale, Transportation of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana and Felony Flight.

Babeu said, "We have seized Nunez's truck since it was used to transport drugs for the Mexican Drug cartels.  He will also face prison time. The only way criminals learn is through stiff consequences, not by being coddled, defended by a list of excuses and being walked back by means of the revolving door installed by the federal government."

The West Desert Task Force is a joint initiative between U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department to combat narcotics trafficking in the West Desert region of Arizona. The task force is sponsored by the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and works in association with the Alliance to Combat Transnational Threats (ACTT).

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