13 Arrested in Incidents Involving Human and Drug Smuggling

Updated: Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011, 2:33 PM MST
Published : Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011, 2:33 PM MST

STANFIELD, Ariz. - Pinal County Sheriff's deputies arrested 13 people within a 25 hour period in three separate cases involving human and drug smuggling.

Sunday about 8:30 p.m., a deputy stopped a 2006 Chevy minivan after it failed to make a complete stop at Montgomery Rd and Hwy. 84. As the deputy approached the vehicle, he noticed five Hispanic males lying on the floor of the vehicle.

The driver and front seat passenger were identified as 21-year-old Stephen Cortez and his mother, Celia Ramirez, 54, both of Casa Grande. They said they did not know the men in the back of the van.

The men did not speak English and admitted to being in the country illegally. Two small bags of marijuana were also found in the vehicle -- and no one would admit to whom the drugs belonged.

PCSO arrested Cortez and Ramirez for possession of marijuana and human smuggling. All seven were turned over to Border Patrol for processing.

Monday just after 7 a.m., a deputy attempted to stop a 2001 GMC Yukon in the area of Harmon and Toltec Rds for a traffic violation. The vehicle fled, turned north on Curry Rd, and traveled about 100 yards before coming to a stop.

PCSO says six subjects exited the vehicle and fled on foot into a cotton field. Back-up responded and assisted in capturing four of the six. They were found to be in the country illegally and turned over to Border Patrol.

Monday just before 9:30 p.m., a deputy noticed three vehicles traveling in tandem and speeding, on I-8 near Stanfield.

Deputies moved into position to initiate a traffic stop. The first vehicle, a 2002 Chevy Impala, came to an abrupt stop. Three subjects exited and fled on foot into the desert. Eight bundles of marijuana were found inside, a total of 332 pounds.

When the second vehicle, a 2004 Buick Rainer, came to a stop, seven subjects exited and fled into the desert. The driver, 22-year-old Jose Hurtado of Phoenix, was detained.

A third deputy stopped the 1991 Honda Civic. The driver was identified as 30-year-old Edgar Larios of Casa Grande. Both Larios and Hurtado were arrested for possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana, and conspiracy.

Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “These three examples clearly demonstrate a lack of control along our southern border. Despite the constant flow of illegal aliens and drugs through Pinal County, we will continue to fight smuggling efforts until someone decides to take up the issue of border security seriously.â€