MCSO Infiltration by Mexican Drug Cartel Apparently a Touchy Subject for Joe Arpaio

Don't mention how the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was infiltrated by a Mexican drug cartel to Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- unless, of course, you want to watch him hijack a press conference, go off about a few "bad apples," and take a shot at the Phoenix Police Department.

Arpaio -- along with Phoenix Police Chief Joseph Yahner, Department of Public Safety Director Robert Halliday, and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery -- announced today that a "multi-agency probe" has led to the arrests of more than 60 prison gang members.

Few details of "Operation Wolf Pack" were offered at a press conference at the County Attorney's Office this afternoon -- it was more a forum for local law enforcement agencies to gush over each other and praise themselves for the inter-agency cooperation.

Arpaio, however, got a little chippy when we asked Yahner if he feels comfortable working so closely with the MCSO, ya know, considering a deputy and two detention officers recently were arrested for -- among other things -- providing information about the agency's anti-smuggling efforts to cartel leaders.

Read about the drug cartel infiltration of the MCSO here.

Yahner's response: "Absolutely" he feels comfortable working with the sheriff, who has been under investigation by the federal government for other alleged corruption for nearly three years.

The press conference would have been over at that point -- assuming Arpaio hadn't darted back to the lectern to respond to the question, which wasn't even directed at him.

The sheriff groaned about how every organization has a "few bad apples" and that he tells all of his detention officers that they're not guards -- he "hates" the term guards, he grumbled -- rather, they're intelligence officers.

In the case of at least two female detention officers, the sheriff's message seems to have sunk in -- the only problem was that they were allegedly giving that "intelligence" to the drug "kingpin" baby-daddy of one of the women, not the MCSO.

Then, inexplicably, Arpaio took a little shot at the PPD.

After moaning about how New Times never questions the "bad apples" in the Phoenix PD (which we do; click here for exhibit A), Arpaio was quick to point out, "They've had a few problems, too."

They sure have -- but the PPD hasn't been under investigation by the federal government for nearly three years for, among many other things, misspending nearly $100 million in taxpayer money.

And, speaking of "bad apples"...

Not to mention Arpaio himself, the MCSO can boast fired second-in-command, Chief Deputy David Hendershott, a focus of the federal inquiry; fired Deputy Chief Larry Black, and Captain Joel Fox, the two who ran the discredited Sheriff's Command Association that illegally financed a sleazy campaign ad targeting Arpaio's opponent in the last two elections, Dan Saban. Because Fox and Black apparently were having a love affair, Fox looks to have protected Black from scrutiny in the SCA debacle.     

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
James King
Contact: James King