Two vehicle pursuits tied to drug smuggling

Two vehicle pursuits tied to drug smuggling

By Czarina Nafarrate. CREATED Sep 16, 2013

FLORENCE, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The Pinal County Sheriff's Department pursued two vehicles early morning on Thursday, Sept. 13, all within 90 minutes of each other; both vehicles contained marijuana.

According to the Pinal County Sheriff's office, the first pursuit occurred at 2 a.m., when a sheriff's deputy was traveling eastbound on Interstate-8.

The deputy noticed a 2000 Cadillac Escalade speeding and attempted to stop the car. The vehicle initially began to pull over, but then accelerated and the deputy followed.

The vehicle stopped a short time later. Officers found 4 suspects in the car, the driver and front seat passenger fled the scene. Deputies found packaged bundles of marijuana behind the remaining suspects.

One suspect, late identified as Arturo Tellez, 28, fled, but was taken into custody after a brief altercation that resulted in Tellez being Tazered. The other suspect, identified as Jesus Arguellas-Esparza, was taken into custody without incident. The other two suspects who ran from the vehicle were never located.

The vehicle contained 153 pounds of marijuana. The vehicle was seized along with the Marijuana. Arguellas-Esparza and Tellez were both booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana for Sale and Transportation of Marijuana. Tellez was also charged with Resisting Arrest.

The second pursuit occurred at 3:24 a.m. when a deputy attempted to stop a 2003 Audi for a traffic violation. The driver failed to yiled and continued eastbound on Highway 84 then fled into the desert. The deputy lost the vehicle, but it was later located abandoned in the desert.

Deputies and officers from the Maricopa Police Department found a total of 7 bundles of marijuana along the side of the road. Inside of the vehicle, a deputy located additional bundles of packaged marijuana.  All together, the marijuana weighed approximately 350 pounds.

The suspect(s) were never located; however, the marijuana and vehicle were seized.

"The packaged marijuana from these two cases had a street value of $377,250.  The cartels have unlimited funding and resources which is why our office has so many vehicle pursuits.  The cartels are desperate to get their loads of drugs or humans to their final destination and we are committed to stop them.  PCSO led a multi-agency operation in the past which resulted in the largest drug bust in State history.  We will not give up this fight until the border is secure," said Sheriff Paul Babeu.