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Two cartel scouts sentenced in Arizona

October 22, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Two cartel scouts sentenced in Arizona

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Two illegal immigrants from Mexico working as armed cartel scouts in Arizona were sentenced to prison time on charges of smuggling and trafficking.

Jose Abelardo Guzman Perez appeared before Chief U.S. District Judge Raner C. Collins for Arizona, who sentenced him to over eight years behind bars for his participation in a drug trafficking conspiracy and armed struggle with federal Border Patrol agents.

Guzman’s associate, Lorenzo Infante Ortiz, previously pleaded guilty to related charges and is serving three-years behind bars.

According to a Justice Department press release, the charges stem from a drug smuggling attempt in 2016 where the two scouted in Arizona for a cartel. The men were sent two or three days before secure the routes used by smugglers.

At the time they were arrested, Guzman carried an AK-47 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol, while Infante Ortiz had an AR-15 and a 9mm sidearm. The two claimed that the firearms were intended to guard themselves against drug rip crews. Additionally, the cartel scouts also possessed backpacks filled with roughly 88 pounds of marijuana.

On the day of the arrest, U.S. Border Patrol surveillance cameras noticed the gunmen drive deeper into Arizona.

A law enforcement place recognized the men sleeping near a brush area with their rifles close to their hands. Using night vision goggles, tactical border agents snuck up on the two smugglers to apprehend them. Infante Ortiz tried to flee but was arrested.

Guzman reached for his AK-47 but was tackled by an agent. The two men struggled and fell off the cliff. The agent sustained a dislocated shoulder but held to Guzman as the man attempted to flee.

The suspect fiercely assaulted the agent by punching and kicking him until he escaped but fell several times down the cliffs. Guzman tried to run away, but other agents caught him.

The area where the arrest of the two scouts occurred is one that is north of a region that sees a constant dispute between two rival groups of the Sinaloa Cartel.

The Los Salazar and Los Memos cells violently fight over drug trafficking territories.

In Arizona, heavily armed cartel-associated groups called rip crews traverse the areas on missions to steal drugs from rival smugglers.

Rip crew members and scouts are typically illegal immigrants living in Phoenix and Tucson who deploy to the desert area and mountain regions when dispatched by cartel leadership in Mexico.

In 2014, an encounter with a rip crew resulted in the fatal shooting of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Some of the weapons used in the deadly shooting were traced to a gun-walking operation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives that permitted scores of guns to be sold to drug cartels.

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