Joe Arpaio Takes Full Advantage of Scary Box in Mail: "I'm a Victim"

Authorities in Flagstaff discovered a package with a rudimentary explosive device addressed to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and the Sheriff pulled out all the stops for this one.

Trump up reality? Check. Play the victim? Check. Blame Mexican drug cartels, try to associate the incident with unrelated murders for all the drooling reporters to lap up, while leaving New Times out of it? Check.

The story's fairly simple -- the package was picked up by a mailman from a drop-off near Flagstaff, and at least one postal worker thought it was suspicious. There was excessive postage on it, and it was addressed to Arpaio.

The postal inspector got involved, and they found that the box had explosive powder, and what appeared to be wires and a battery.

So, Arpaio holds the press conference -- one of those press conferences where the invite to New Times conveniently gets lost in an apparent e-mail black hole -- as Arpaio and chief deputy Jerry Sheridan trumped up reality.

We caught part of this thanks to a live feed from Channel 3, as Sheridan explained that it's "very much like cartels" to do something like this. Sheridan referred to this as "an actual explosive device," which all sounded oh-so-credible when he explained, "I'm not making this up."

Well, a law-enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation tells New Times it was "not a very sophisticated device."

We're told it has all the parts required to make an explosion, but authorities don't know at this point if the device would have created any explosion at all.

There was also a return address on the box, so we'll know shortly if the device-mailer was dumb enough to put his own address on there.

Meanwhile, Arpaio explained in the presser that his "good sources" indicated a cartel connection. We're guessing those might be the same "sources" who told Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu that a cartel was responsible for the five bodies of a Tempe family found burned in the desert (which turned out to be a murder/suicide perpetrated by the husband/father, who was not connected to cartels at all).

"I'm a victim," Arpaio said, apparently trying to convince everyone that he's not crying wolf in the death-threat department this time.

He repeated the false claim that cartels offer millions of dollars for his head, and floated the possibility -- as if it had any basis in reality -- that this package might be related to the killing of Colorado's prisons chief.

Arpaio talked about the media attention given to "groups" that don't like him -- which we assume to be the recall effort -- and says this negative attention toward him will "cause people to do bad things." Nice try.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley