Almost 5 tons of marijuana seized in Southern ArizonaPosted on November 21, 2003
Law enforcement officers from the Department of Homeland Security teamed up yesterday to seize nearly ten thousand pounds of marijuana in southern Arizona. The marijuana was discovered by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in four vehicles in two separate locations, 80 miles apart.
The incident began at around 5:00 a.m. Thursday when an ICE Blackhawk helicopter observed two four-door pickup trucks hidden beneath tarps in the vicinity of Menager's Dam on the Tohono O'odham Reservation about twelve miles east of the Lukeville Port of Entry. Landing immediately, the Blackhawk deployed an apprehension team which captured one suspect and recovered a 9mm semi-automatic handgun.
Responding to the air unit, Special Agents from ICE and CBP took custody of the suspect and secured the two vehicles. Agents searched the two pickup trucks with camper shells and discovered approximately 2,200 pounds of marijuana in marijuana in one and more than 2,700 pounds in the other. The suspect was later identified as Jose Luis Perez-Lopez, a 28- year old Mexican national who remains in ICE custody pending the filing of formal charges.
After further investigation, agents determined that at least two additional vehicles had recently passed through the area. Aided by the ICE Blackhawk, the agents resumed their search for additional vehicles south of Stanfield. Subsequently, the agents located two more pickup trucks with camper shells near Cockleburr, approximately eighty miles north of Menager's Dam. One of these vehicles contained almost 2,100 pounds of marijuana, the other 2,500 pounds. No additional suspects were found at the second scene. Agents believe the vehicles may have been dropped there for later transport by smugglers.