The Pinal County Sheriff’s department is reporting that it ended November with a bang, seizing nearly 11,000 pounds of marijuana and apprehending more than 30 illegal immigrants in Vekol Valley, an area less than 20 miles south of Maricopa.

“We will continue to direct as many resources as possible to this area,” said Sheriff Paul Babeau. “I have joined my deputies during several of these shifts and continue to see the problems our Pinal County residents are faced with on a daily basis. The men and women of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office are doing all that we can to help stop the continuous flow of drugs and human trafficking from Mexico,”

Here is a run down of the seizures and apprehensions that occurred between Nov. 17 and Nov. 28. All details are according to the Sheriff’s department.

Wednesday, Nov. 17
Deputies discovered a 2002 Ford F250 truck driving with no lights in the desert area. Deputies followed the vehicle for a short distance but the truck fled. Deputies located the vehicle a short time later abandoned. The truck had been reported stolen by a city of Phoenix resident. The rear tail lights were smashed out. The paint was badly damaged as a result of the vehicle being driven through the thick desert brush. The vehicle appeared to have been used to transport illegal aliens.

Deputies attempted to stop a 2000 Chevy minivan near Interstate 8. The vehicle fled and was traveling in excess of 100 mph. Deputies backed away from the vehicle because of the dangerous driving. The vehicle was located abandoned a short time later. Deputies followed foot tracks from the vehicle and took an illegal immigrant (age 17) into custody. The van was packed with eleven bundles of marijuana and an additional bundle was located near the suspect.

Thursday, Nov. 18
Deputies observed three trucks traveling in a row near Interstate 8. Deputies attempted to stop the vehicles but they split off from each other and began to travel through the desert. The vehicles were eventually stopped and the drivers were taken into custody. One of the drivers attempted to escape by jumping into a canal but came out because of the cold water. The vehicles were headed to Interstate 8 to pick up loads of illegal immigrants.

Deputies observed seven individuals carrying large brown burlap bundles on their back near Interstate 8. As deputies attempted to contact them they fled into the desert. Six of them dropped their backpacks and were able to get away. Ernesto Salazar (age 29) ran with his backpack and was taken into custody. Ernesto told deputies, he was in the United States illegally from Caborca, Mexico. (350 pounds of marijuana was seized.)

Friday, Nov. 19
Deputies located two abandoned trucks in the desert loaded with marijuana. Both trucks were reported stolen. The trucks contained a total of 3,700 pounds of marijuana.

Sunday, Nov. 21
Deputies stopped a Ford Explorer and immediately could smell the odor of marijuana. The vehicle contained ten bundles of marijuana. Three suspects were taken into custody. The total weight of the marijuana was 240 pounds.

Deputies stopped a vehicle with seven illegal immigrants. They were turned over to border patrol.

An abandoned truck was located in the desert area with 1,750 lbs of marijuana.

Monday, Nov. 22
Deputies observed a Ford F250 driving with no lights near Interstate 8. The vehicle contained approximately fifty (50) illegal immigrants in the cab and bed of the truck. All of the individuals fled when deputies attempted to stop the vehicle. Six were taken into custody and turned over to U.S. Border Patrol. One of the individuals attempted to escape by jumping into a canal and had to be rescued by deputies.

Deputies located six subjects hiding in a wash near Interstate 8. Deputies also recovered communications equipment and fourteen bundles of marijuana. The total weight of the marijuana was 220 pounds.

Deputies located three trucks loaded with 2,035 pounds of marijuana loaded in them.

Tuesday, Nov. 23
Six illegal immigrants were located in a residential neighborhood with marijuana backpacks. They were taken into custody. The total weight of the marijuana was 246 pounds.

Saturday, Nov. 27
Deputies were involved with two separate vehicle pursuits. Both trucks eventually stopped and both drivers were taken into custody. The total weight of the marijuana was 2,140 pounds.

Sunday, Nov. 28
Deputies were called regarding a dead body in the desert. Saul Soto-Aguirre (age 29 of Morellia, Michoacan, Mexico) reported he, the deceased (age 42) and four other individuals had paid a guide $1,300 each to lead them into the United States from Mexico. All of them had been walking for the three days and had not eaten in two days. The victim fell while walking and the remainder of the group and guides continued on. Deputies followed the foot tracks of the other four but they disappeared once they hit Interstate 8. Saul was turned over to the U.S. Border Patrol.

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