KOLD INVESTIGATES: Pima County unit has knack for busting smugglers

KOLD INVESTIGATES: Pima County unit has knack for busting smugglers

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The war on drugs, human trafficking, and stolen guns isn't just a battle on the border.

It's happening right here in Pima County and that's why the sheriff's department has a specialized unit to keep those things off our streets.

Members of the Pima County Sheriff Department's Border Interdiction Unit have a knack for finding drugs and guns.

Their main focus is the highway corridors most often used by smugglers -- I-10, I-19 and SR 83.

KOLD News 13 has agreed to only use the first name of BIU team members.

(Source: Tucson News Now)

Keeping narcotics off the street

Det. Jeff is part of the six-member unit.

As a kid, he dreamed of being a cop to keep narcotics off the street.

It's a dream that fuels his passion today.

"Weapons, drugs and human smuggling, all that stuff affects everybody," Jeff said. "It's one of those things that I take pride in my job, if we can get drugs off the street and we can guns off the street. I count that as a win in my book."

To help them rack up those wins, they have two K-9 deputies, license plate readers and intel from federal agencies.

Also, they have a scope that helps locate items hidden inside vehicles.

(Source: Tucson News Now)

Finding the contraband

KOLD's Kevin Adger took a ride along with the BIU.

During one stop off I-10 in midtown, they found several drugs. After seeing the driver commit three violations, the BIU stopped the car and brought out the K9.

The dog alerted on several places in the vehicle, including the center console.

Inside the car, deputies found heroin, crystal meth, and a small digital scale.

The next stop was a bit of a chase.

The unit received information about a car with drugs inside on the northwest side.

The deputies searched the suspect and dug through the vehicle. They recovered a gun from a Tucson police case, but no drugs.

That changed when the suspect was taken to the Pima County Jail. During a strip search, a pound of meth was found.

"We aren't doing a traffic stop on just the normal person," Jeff said. "We are doing a traffic stop on somebody that meets a threshold. They are a little bit more dangerous, they're involved with drugs or have some kind of nexus with the border.

(Source: Tucson News Now)

The PCSD said the unit was very successful this past year.

BIU 2017 Statistics:

• More than 286 arrests, leading to 390 felony and 218 misdemeanor charges

• Almost 30 stolen vehicles recovered

• More than $216,000 in currency seized

• Nearly 140 weapons recovered

• More than 5,400 pounds of marijuana seized

• Almost 77,000 grams of meth taken off the streets

• Nearly 92,000 grams of cocaine discovered

• More than 47,000 grams of heroin found

• Over 5,300 grams of fentanyl powder and 7,600 Fentanyl pills seized

• 81 human trafficking cases investigated

(Source: Tucson News Now)

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