Three men being sought by the Arizona Department of Public Safety are suspected of helping to smuggle tons of pot for various Mexican cartels.
Christian Palacios, a Valley resident and the only U.S. citizen in the trio, and two Mexican nationals, Julio Cesar Alavarado Yanez and Osvaldo Moreno Herrera, were higher-ups in a well-armed group led by Ines Moreno, who was busted in October. That bust led to the indictments last week of Moreno and five other people who now stand accused of bringing hundreds of pounds of pot into Arizona weekly.
The typical m.o., says DPS, was to use guards armed with AK-47s to accompany the smugglers making their way from Mexico through the desert of southern Arizona.
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It sounds hard to believe, but DPS claims that some individual members of the smuggling team were earning $80,000 a week working for "several" Mexican drug cartels at a time.
The DPS' IIMPACT (Illegal Immigration Prevention and Apprehension Co-Op Team), which seeks to disrupt major criminal organizations, developed the case with U.S. Homeland Security and Phoenix police. Search warrants in Eloy and Phoenix were served during the October bust, dubbed "Catch Me If You Can."
The three outstanding suspects are believed to be hiding in Mexico or Arizona.