Seven arrested in drug ring with Tucson ties
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Seven people, including a Tucson couple, were arrested Wednesday, March 2 in connection with a Sierra Vista drug-trafficking ring, federal officials said.
The DEA said 29-year-old Erick Alfredo Erives, of Tucson, allegedly operated a drug-trafficking organization and had "multiple drug-load coordinators, drivers and multiple stash houses based in Tucson, Sierra Vista, Bisbee, Huachuca City and Naco."
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The DEA said Erives, who is facing racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering, forgery, theft and drug possession charges, is the son of DEA fugitive Ignacio Alfredo Erives-Martinez.
Also arrested were: Sorina Nichole Morales, of Tucson, Huachuca City's Mercedes V. Anello and Patrick J. Bramwell, Cody D. Avery, Francisco Chavez-Bustamonte and Lorenzo Cordova-Bustamante, all of Sierra Vista.
The DEA said most of the group went to high school together in Sierra Vista and were recruited into drug trafficking during social encounters at a skate park in Sierra Vista.
"These guys were all high school buddies, hung out at the skate park in Sierra Vista … started out smoking marijuana and skating." said Al Laurita, DEA special agent.
What started out as an idea between Buena High School friends, turned into a business of smuggling and selling thousands of pounds of marijuana across the country.
"Drug traffickers are phenomenal entrepreneurs," Laurita said.
The investigation, which began in September 2014, resulted in the seizure of almost 1,600 pounds of marijuana, half a kilogram of heroin and several other drugs, including MDMA and mushrooms.
DEA officials said alleged ring leader, Erives, recruited and employed multiple drug coordinators, drivers and had stash homes that looked just like any other on the block to keep their operation under the radar.
One neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, said she was suspicious of possible drug activity.
"One car every 15 minutes it seemed like and they're all brand new and fancy vehicles," she said.
"Drug traffickers cannot conceal their illegal activity in our small towns in an effort to evade law enforcement," Special Agent in Charge Doug Coleman said. "The DEA will find you, investigate your activity, and ensure you face justice for your drug crimes in our communities."
Agencies involved in the enforcement operation included the DEA's Sierra Vista Resident Office, Homeland Security Investigations-Douglas, the United States Border Patrol, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office and the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
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