Mexico to Phoenix in a wash?

Sonoyta, Mexico to 59th Avenue and Baseline in Phoenix

According to Terry Goddard you can take washes all the way from Sonoyta, Mexico to 59th Avenue and Baseline in Phoenix without once needing to get on a road. Maybe I should follow that path. It should be interesting. [Of course that conflicts with the statements in the article that say Once the cargo arrived at a safe house in Pinal County, smugglers transferred it to a clean vehicle with up-to-date registration and moved the drugs into Phoenix for distribution through the rest of the nation. so I guess Terry Goddard is a liar trying to impress up]

These guys also used the cool auto trailer to go over the 18 foot [6 meter] tall border fence that I saw on Fox TV. They had a trailer used to transport cars for car dealers and they would drive up to the border fence and lower ramps from the trailer over the border fence down to the ground on the US side of the border. Then the truck was loaded with stolen SUVs which where full of marijuana, which they would drive off the trailer on the Mexican side of the border across the fence and down to the ground on the US side. It was pretty cool.

This gave me a couple of ideas to help the drug dealer.

The could make up a language like the US did when it used Navajos as code talkers to keep the Japanese from understanding them.

They had lookouts in the desert watching for cops. They could have given them computers hooked to encrypted packet radio transmitters to tell about what they were seeing.

The only bad news is the bus.


Pot-smuggling ring sophisticated, authorities say

by JJ Hensley - Dec. 23, 2008 09:30 PM

The Arizona Republic

This wasn't an average pot bust.

The drug dealers had the standard hallmarks of their trade — hundreds of bales of marijuana, fleets of stolen cars, bundles of cash and a small arsenal of weapons.

But these Mexico-to-Arizona drug runners were different: They had radio towers set up in the desert to communicate with each other, as many as 50 scouts scattered through the rugged border country to direct the operation, and a mobile ramp to help vehicles hop the border fence.

“The ramp trucks are new,” said John Stonehouse, an airborne officer with Customs and Border Patrol in Tucson. “The creation of the border fence resulted in the creation of the ramp truck. I'm sure the design was a copy off military ramping systems.”

And like an army, the Garibaldi-Lopez drug-trafficking organization, was as sprawling as it was complex. The group distributed thousands of pounds of marijuana from Phoenix throughout the United States before authorities dismantled it, resulting in 59 indictments and 40 arrests made early this week.

Like other drug operations, this ring utilized cars and trucks, many of which were stolen from the Valley. They would leave Sonoyta, Mexico — just across from Lukeville — loaded with thousands of pounds of pot and make their way to the border, but the similarity to a run-of-the-mill drug operation ended there.

Once at the U.S.-Mexico boundary, agents said, the vehicles would clear the border fence using a truck with a ramp built on top, a scaled-down version of the semis that drop off cars at auto lots. [I saw a video of this on FOX TV. It was pretty cool. The Border Patrol was doing a stake out and filmed the auto trailer driving up on the Mexican side and lowering ramps so the SUVs loaded on the auto trailer could drive across the border fence to the US side of the border.]

After crossing the border and entering the Tohono O'odham Reservation, the smugglers would stick to ravines and washes as they made their way toward Pinal County under the cover of dark.

Scouts scattered throughout the desert pointed the way and served as a lookout for law enforcement, and when authorities did get close, the smugglers were ready: They would ditch the cars under camouflage and scrub brush, sometimes for days, until the danger passed.

“They could get a car to 59th Avenue and Baseline (Road) without ever hitting the pavement,” Attorney General Terry Goddard said at a Tuesday news conference.

Once the cargo arrived at a safe house in Pinal County, smugglers transferred it to a clean vehicle with up-to-date registration and moved the drugs into Phoenix for distribution through the rest of the nation.

It wasn't until Phoenix police began making busts in the Valley and communicating with other agencies around the state last January that authorities realized they might be on to something larger than the typical smuggling ring, said Phoenix police Lt. Vince Piano.

Ultimately, it required the work of Phoenix police, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety along with federal agents from Drug Enforcement, Customs, Immigration and Border Patrol to bring the group down.

The balance sheet of the Garibaldi-Lopez ring shows why they were so sophisticated.

The group, which federal agents linked to the notorious Sinaloa cartel from Mexico, smuggled up to 2 million pounds of pot over the border in the past five years, with a wholesale value estimated at about $1 billion.

Despite their high-volume business, it was the drug ring's ingenuity that allowed them to literally slip under the law-enforcement radar for years.

Another organization will likely step up to take over the business of the Garibaldi-Lopez ring, authorities acknowledged.

The cash that comes from marijuana sales fuels other operations in the Sinaloa cartel's drug trade, which makes pot sales in the state a crucial part of the operation, said Matthew Allen, a special agent in charge with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“Every time they lose cocaine, meth, heroin, they make up those losses by selling marijuana in the United States,” Allen said.

It was the organization's relative indifference to the fate of their pot shipments that allowed them to keep pushing drugs north of the border, even though agencies were consistently busting the loads for the past year.

A pound of the marijuana might be worth $50 in Mexico, but could wholesale for $1,000 or more in Phoenix and much more in other markets around the country.

“This group could care less about losing 2,000 to 4,000 pounds per week,” Piano said.

It took the combined intelligence and resources of all the agencies involved to take down the sprawling drug ring, said Pinal County Sheriff Chris Vasquez, whose jurisdiction encompasses a common smuggling route.

“With the resources we have, we would make a small — not even a dent — in the amount of drugs coming up through that corridor,” Vasquez said.


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