Task force dismantles meth, coke ring

Submitted by Pinal County Sheriff's Office

July 9, 2012 - 12:06 pm
Cash seized inside one of the suspect's residences. Photo submitted by PCSO

Narcotics detectives are calling it Operation Big Rig, a month-long investigation targeting suspects dealing cocaine and methamphetamine using truck washes along Interstate 10 between Eloy and Toltec. Fifteen people were arrested.

The case began after detectives with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Task Force received a tip dealers were selling substantial amounts of both drugs to truck drivers and other buyers.

Using an undercover big rig drivers, detectives posed as buyers at several stops including Flash Truck Polishing in Toltec and Show Time Truck Polishing in Eloy.

After building the case and identifying suspects in the drug ring in June, detectives with the task force and Eloy Police Department served four search warrants: one at Flash Truck Polishing, the others at three residential homes in Eloy and Toltec.

Nine people were arrested at the truck wash, including the owners, Hector Soto-Quintero and Rafael Rios. Four of those arrested, as well as Soto-Quintero, are in the U.S. illegally from Mexico.

A total of 24.8 trams of methamphetamine and 9.8 grams of cocaine were seized during the investigation, along with eight vehicles, one rifle and $26,000 cash.

Eight of the 15 arrested have been identified; four were turned over to U.S. Border Patrol for processing, three others were arrested during searches for other warrants. Those arrested on suspicion of various drug crimes including possession of a dangerous drug for sale and transportation of dangerous drugs are: Kelly Bahme, 41, Eloy, owner of Show Time Truck Polishing; Manuel Chacon, 40, Eloy; Sammie Johnson, 23, Arizona City; Rafael Rios, 51, Toltec, co-owner Flash Truck Polishing; Ricardo Sodari, 37, Arizona City; Hector Soto-Quintero, 44, Eloy, co-owner Flash Truck Polishing; Raquel Valenzuela, 34, Arizona City; Ignacio Velasquez, 27, Eloy.

“This case is a prime example of why this task force was formed,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “Narcotics detectives operate in the shadows, building cases that ultimately lead to putting dangerous criminals and drug pushers like those identified in Operation Big Rig behind bars.”

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