"Tempe is too hot -- so stay out!"
That's the message the Tempe Police Department wants to send to heroin dealers following a seven-month heroin trafficking investigation that resulted in the arrest of 40 people -- 15 of whom were heroin dealers from 10 different Mexican trafficking networks.
Tempe Police Sergeant Steve Carbajal tells New Times that about seven months ago, cops started noticing a string of burglaries within the city. Many of those arrested for the burglaries were stealing to support a heroin habit.
Police noticed the trend in heroin use and organized a "strategic operation response" to try and put an end to it.
Cops began an investigation into the heroin trade they dubbed "Dark Carnival."
Detectives working the case were able to track the heroin being pushed to users in Tempe, to trafficking organizations in the city of Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico.
Police say these cartels would supply "street level" dealers and users in Tempe and other Valley cities.
Along with the 40 arrests, cops seized $19,000 in cash and over a half-pound of heroin.
Some of the heroin recovered was recovered the hard way.
Police say a common tactic among sellers and users is to package the heroin in a balloon, which they keep in their mouths. If confronted by a cop, the user or dealer would often swallow the balloon to avoid arrest.
If police suspect there may be some -- as police refer to it -- "ingested evidence," the suspects were taken to a nearby hospital.
Hoping for the best, we asked Carbajal how police went about obtaining "ingested evidence."
"Through a warrant and time," he joked.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.