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11 arrested on suspicion of supplying drug smugglers on Arizona reservation

March 3, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
11 arrested on suspicion of supplying drug smugglers on Arizona reservation

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Federal officials arrested 11 suspects on suspicion that they supplied drug-trafficking scouts with equipment and food.

The members of the re-supply network are facing accusations that they hauled radios, phones, batteries, fuel, food, clothes, and other items to the scouts. The scouts sit on mountainsides of Southern Arizona for weeks or months, according to a federal complaint unsealed on February 8th in Tucson’s U.S. District Court.

Scouts utilize binoculars and encrypted radios to lead drug and human smugglers past law enforcement, particularly in the passageway that runs from the international border through the Tohono O’odham reservation and on to Phoenix.

The 11 suspects arrested on February 3rd are facing charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, Tuscon.com reported.

Eleven people arrested for running drug network on Tohono O’odham Reservation

The charges were filed after agents with the Homeland Security Investigations in Sells began an investigation back in October 2015 of a group that smuggled marijuana through the reservation to Phoenix. As part of that probe, HSI agents focused on scouts and their re-supply networks.

The supplies were collected at the Phoenix residence of the mother of the person in charge of providing for the scouts, Maria Roxanna Acosta Quintana, 23, or at the home of her brother, Ruben Villegas Acosta, and sister-in-law Angelica Marie Alvarado.

Drivers picked up the supplies from the homes or at other locations, such as Walmart parking lots, tire shops, motels, and auto shops.

From Phoenix, drivers brought the supplies, which were usually concealed inside of trash bags, to the Tohono O’odham reservation and left the supplies at residences in the villages of GuVo, Hickiwan, Cobabi, Charco, and Nolia.

In some instances, the drivers stopped at pre-selected mile-markers or intersections on the reservation, where men in camouflage would emerge from the brush to take the supplies.

Investigators based their accusations off of statements from a confidential source, evidence collected through search warrants, surveillance, vehicle tracking devices, and traffic stops.

All of the suspects are U.S. citizens, except for Mexican national Ruben Villegas Acosta. Antonio Pasqual Aguilar Sanchez, 36, was detained after being taken into custody, and the other ten defendants were discharged on recognizance.

Scouts often don’t have drugs on them at the time of their arrest, which makes it challenging to prosecute them for drug smuggling. Federal officials saw their first conviction of a scout on a conspiracy charge in 2015 in Tucson. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals supported that conviction on January 31st.

The other individuals arrested for their roles in the re-supply network are:

Nicole Havier, 42
Dora Carreras, 43
Fawn Eveningstar Manuel, 34
Anna Arlene Hernandez, 23
Jesus Gilberto Parra Acosta, 21
Jackie Ann Garcia, 29
Andrew Ortega, 60

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