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Pinal County Deputies Seize Drugs, Expose Smuggling Camp

Authorities say a helicopter helped Pinal County deputies on Wednesday seize more than a ton of marijuana and two vehicles, and expose a suspected smuggling camp.

A Sheriff’s Office helicopter was called to assist the West Desert Task Force, made up of Pinal County deputies and several federal agencies, to track a suspected drug load in the Vekol Valley, north of Interstate 8, said Elias Johnson, a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

As Border Patrol in the area moved south, the air unit reportedly traveled north with a border agent on board. Shortly after landing, Johnson said, a white Ford F-150 truck was discovered in thick brush and loaded with 2,010 pounds of marijuana. Footprints from the vehicle were tracked east, he said, but authorities were unable to locate any suspects.

Later, PCSO said the helicopter moved southwest to track another suspected drug load along Freeman Road. A Chevrolet Suburban was found hidden in the brush, and after a registration check, the vehicle was found to be reported stolen from Phoenix, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Authorities believe it was used to smuggle marijuana.

During the flight back to Casa Grande, sheriff’s officials said the helicopter tracked a suspected scout position and discovered a smuggling camp on a large hill top northwest of Interstate 8 and Arizona 84. The helicopter dropped off two deputies who discovered multiple sleeping bags, supplies, clothing, food and water that could sustain two to three people for several weeks, officials said.

According to deputies, a solar battery charger, multiple cell phone and hand held radio chargers, and a shotgun hidden in a rock crevice were seized from the area.-[source]

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