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Rogelio Rubio, 31, of Maricopa, was arrested early Sunday for suspicion of aggravated assault and resisting arrest when Pinal County Regional DUI Task Force was working saturation patrols in the city.

At 2:30 a.m., a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office traffic sergeant tried to stop a vehicle near Maricopa Road and West Smith Road after he observed the driver committing several traffic violations consistent with those of an impaired driver.

The vehicle failed to stop and a short pursuit with speeds right at or under the speed limit ensued through a residential neighborhood. The suspect eventually stopped his vehicle in his own driveway in the 43000 block of West Lindgren Drive.

Rubio refused to exit his vehicle despite numerous commands. The driver’s side window was broken out of the vehicle by the sergeant. Rubio remained uncooperative and resisted arrest when the sergeant attempted to take him into custody.

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A Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy arrested two men Wednesday on suspicion of illegal drug activity on State Route 347 just north of the city at milepost 181.

More than 715 pounds of marijuana, estimated street value $537,000, was seized from a 2000 Ford Expedition after a deputy observed a traffic violation.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as Abdul Cortes-Reyes, 24, of Sonora, Mexico, and the passenger was identified as Ignacio Cienfuego-Varela, 31, also of Sonora.

The deputy smelled a strong odor of marijuana coming from inside the vehicle. He could also see in plain view several bundles that appeared to contain marijuana.

Cortes-Reyes and Cienfuego-Varela admitted to deputies they were in the United States illegally and that there was marijuana in the vehicle.

They were arrested on suspicion of possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana.

The suspects were booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center and are being held on a no-bond status. The vehicle was seized and paperwork will be completed to begin the forfeiture process. 

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Peter Cardinale, 21, of Chandler, and Anthony Stuber, 21, of San Tan Valley have been arrested by Pinal County sheriff deputies on suspicion of shoplifting donation jars intended for a 7-year-old cancer patient from two separate San Tan Valley Walgreens.

Cardinale was taken into custody Thursday afternoon without incident at his grandmother’s home in Apache Junction.

On Wednesday, surveillance video from the Walgreens at 3111 W. Hunt Highway showed Cardinale walking into the store and leaving moments later after taking a donation jar left at the front register.

The donation jar was placed in the store by the sick child’s parents who used the money to cover food expenses. Her picture and purpose for the funds were clearly marked on the containers.

On Aug. 9, surveillance video from the Walgreens at 333 E. Hunt Highway showed Stuber walking into the store and leaving moments later after taking a donation jar left at the front register. He was arrested Tuesday.

The suspect in the Aug. 9 incident was seen running to a silver sedan waiting for him.

He was identified as the same person responsible for stealing beer with an accomplice Aug. 6 from the Walgreens at 3111 W. Hunt Highway.

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More than 100 pounds of marijuana were seized and one illegal immigrant faces deportation following a vehicle pursuit near Maricopa Sunday.

About 1:45 p.m., a Pinal County Sheriff Office patrol deputy in the area of State Route 347 at mile post 172 observed a red 2001 Chevrolet pickup swerving while traveling northbound in front of him.

The deputy initiated a traffic stop, and the driver of the pickup pulled to the shoulder. As the deputy attempted to make contact, the driver left the scene at a high rate of speed.

During the vehicle pursuit, the suspect turned off Highway 347 onto West Bowlin Road and then north to North Alterra Parkway where abruptly stopped.

The deputy witnessed four to five Hispanic males get out the vehicle and leave on foot. Additional PCSO units, with assistance from the Maricopa Police Department, searched the area for suspects.

One male subject was located hiding in the desert. The man was identified as an illegal immigrant from Mexico and was transported to Casa Grande Medical Center for extreme dehydration. The suspect was then turned over to United States Border Patrol for processing. The other subjects were not located.

“Fortunately no one was hurt after the suspects decided to run from our deputy, putting lives of other motorists in danger. Their vehicle will now be seized and auctioned off raising additional funds to combat drug runners in Pinal County,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said.

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Using dental records, the victim from Tuesday morning’s fatal fire in Thunderbird Farms has been positively identified as 79-year-old Jose M. Nazareno, according to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Nazareno’s 76-year-old wife was able to escape using a second floor exit after her husband woke her and alerted her of the fire. He went downstairs where the fire originated to attempt to put it out but wasn't seen again.

The cause of the blaze is still unknown, said PCSO spokesman Elias Johnson.

The fire broke out about 3:35 a.m. Monday in an old church converted into a residence in the 49200 block of West Mayer Boulevard. Nazareno’s body was not recovered until 10:15 a.m.

Johnson said Monday the structure burned “fast and hot to the point when we got there minutes later there was no way to get into the house.”

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The Pinal County Sheriff's Department is working with Tempe police to see if there is a connection between a missing Tempe family and the burned vehicle found Saturday in Vekol Valley with five dead bodies inside.

On Monday, according to PCSO, Tempe police advised the sheriff's office it was working a case in which a husband, wife and their three children were confirmed missing along with the family’s full-sized Ford SUV.

Additionally on Monday, an autopsy was conducted on the five bodies by the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office. Chief Medical Examiner Gregory Hess said the bodies were badly burned and it may be difficult to determine whether they were killed before the vehicle was set on fire.

Hess added the victims’ identities only can be determined by dental records. It is not known yet if the bodies are male or female.

PCSO is investigating the killing of five people found burned beyond recognition Saturday morning in an SUV in the Vekol Valley area in the western part of the county.

“This could have been a drug deal gone bad, or done for revenge or retaliation,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said Saturday.

Authorities found the vehicle and its dead occupants in the desert near milepost 151 of Interstate 8 after a Border Patrol officer using binoculars saw a vehicle smoldering from a distance.

When authorities located the SUV, it was completely burned with one person in the rear passenger seat and the other four bodies in the back, Babeu said. There were no bodies in the driver’s seat or front passenger seat.

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On Thursday, Pinal County sheriff deputies working with the West Desert Task Force found 1,625 lbs of marijuana in a stolen GMC pickup.

The truck was traveling on east Interstate 8 in Vekol Valley when the driver turned north through an open gate and attempted to conceal the truck in thick brush. A search of the area for two subjects was unsuccessful.

The West Desert Task Force is collaboration between the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, Tucson Sector Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

Earlier in the week, deputies investigated a 13-year-old who brought marijuana into a Florence school, and two people dealing drugs out of a house in Toltec.

On Wednesday, members of the PCSO Narcotics Task Force were called by the Florence Police Department to help investigate a drug case after a 13-year-old boy brought marijuana to school.

The boy told detectives he’d gotten the drugs from his father.

Deputies made contact with the father, identified as Jason Kendrick, 36. Kendrick allowed detectives to search his home and they found a plastic bin containing approximately eight pounds of packaged hydroponics marijuana valued at $28,000.

Kendricks said he got the drugs from a family member out of state. Charges have been forwarded to the Pinal County Attorney’s Office.

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An illegal immigrant from Mexico is in custody following a vehicle pursuit Monday evening.

On Monday at approximately 8:30 p.m., a Pinal County Sheriff Office deputy on patrol heading eastbound near Meadow View and Green road’s observed a white, 2003 Ford F‐150 pickup traveling westbound at a high rate of speed.

The deputy turned around to conduct a traffic stop at Osa and Javelina roads. After the deputy activated his emergency lights, the truck accelerated away from the deputy at a high rate of speed.

After a vehicle pursuit that covered approximately four miles, the driver pulled to a stop along Dune Shadow Road and ran from the vehicle into the desert.

The deputy approached the truck to secure the vehicle and notice a loaded AK‐47 rifle had been discarded near the passenger door. The deputy also identified a female passenger kneeling beside the truck, covering a 4‐year‐old child.

The 26‐year‐old passenger identified herself as the child’s mother, and both were secured and placed into the deputy’s vehicle. Both are U.S. citizens.

The passenger identified the driver of the truck as Carlos Munoz‐Parra, 33, of Sinaloa, Mexico. A search involving PCSO deputies, U.S. Border Patrol agents, and rangers with the Bureau of Land Management was conducted. Munoz‐Parra was apprehended minutes later by a BLM Ranger K‐9 Unit hiding in the desert. When asked why he didn’t stop, Munoz‐Parra indicated he had been drinking and was an illegal immigrant.

He faces charges of carrying a deadly weapon in furtherance of a felony, carrying of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and unlawful flight from law enforcement.                         

The passenger informed deputies Munoz‐Parra was giving her a ride to a friend’s house at the time of the pursuit.  She also informed deputies she told Munoz‐Parra to stop so she and her son could get out.

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An officer with the Arizona Department of Corrections has been arrested and charged after multiple images of child pornography were discovered on his personal computer.

On April 12, members of the Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and the Casa Grande Police Department responded to a computer repair shop in Casa Grande after a technician reported a computer been brought in by a customer for repair, identified as Jeffrey Williams, 46, of Casa Grande, contained images of children being sexually abused.

Detectives with CGPD seized the computer and obtained a search warrant to have the hard drive examined. Investigators with the PCSO Computer Forensic Lab were able to pull several images including videos of children being sexually abused.

Based on the materials found, an arrest warrant for Williams was issued as well as search warrant for his residence.

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Nearly $9 million worth of methamphetamine and black tar heroin were seized June 24 by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office from a vehicle traveling north on State Route 347 just south of Maricopa.

Around 9 p.m. a sheriff’s deputy attempted to stop a 2005 Nissan Armada.

When the vehicle stopped, the front seat passenger opened his door and fled on foot eastbound through the desert. The passenger was described as a Hispanic man wearing a blue and grey striped shirt and jeans.

The female driver was later identified as Jessica Velasco, 28, of Stanfield. Inside of the Nissan deputies could see in plain view several packages of what they believed to be illegal drugs. When asked about the drugs, Velasco then told deputies that nothing in the vehicle was hers and that her husband would be upset.

An investigation revealed several individuals had smuggled the drugs from Mexico through the desert and up into Pinal County where it was loaded into the Nissan Armada for delivery to various locations throughout the United States. The vehicle contained 197 pounds of methamphetamines and 103 pounds of black tar heroin.

Velasco was booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for one count each of possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a dangerous drug for sale, transportation of a dangerous drug, possession of a narcotic drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale and transportation of a narcotic drug. She is currently being held on a $500,000 bond.

 Due to the large quantity of drugs which were seized on this case, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations responded to assist with processing and evidence collection.

 “We appreciate the assistance of our Federal Law Enforcement partners with this huge seizure,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office continues to step up our enforcement efforts against the drug cartels of Mexico. As a result, we were able to seize nearly $9 million worth of illegal drugs before they could be distributed throughout the United States.”

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A Pinal County deputy, Robert Taylor, administered CPR twice to the same child in two days.

The child, Milanna Monique Baeza, 2, of Arizona City, did not survive on the second day, and investigators have learned she may have had a pre-existing medical condition.

 Shortly before 5 a.m. on June 25, Pinal County sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call about a 2-year-old child not breathing in the 9200 block of West Troy Drive in Arizona City.

Taylor responded and arrived at the residence within minutes. The child was not breathing, her eyes were rolled back and she was starting to turn blue. Taylor immediately began cardio pulmonary resuscitation on Malinna. After about two minutes, the girl was breathing on her own and Taylor could feel a pulse.

Malinna was taken by air ambulance to Banner Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, where she was released later that day.

 The following day at 11 p.m., the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office received another 911 call about Malinna not breathing. Taylor and Deputy Russell Warren arrived at the residence within minutes and found Malinna not breathing and cold to the touch. Both deputies took turns performing CPR on Malinna until medical personnel arrived on scene. Malinna was transported to the Casa Grande Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.

An autopsy will be conducted on the girl to determine the cause of her death.

Taylor is the same deputy who saved two lives within one hour on Feb. 3. One was by performing CPR on an 8-month-old infant and the other was by locating a missing 83-year-old man who had fallen into a well and was barely conscious.

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Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was recognized Sunday as the “2011 National Sheriff of the Year” by the National Sheriffs’Association.

The award was presented during the opening general session at the NSA’s Annual Conference in St. Louis, Mo.

The NSA established the Ferris E. Lucas award in 1995 to recognize an outstanding sheriff of the year for contributions made to improve the office of sheriff on the local, state, and national levels, and for involvement in the community above and beyond the responsibilities required. The award is given in memory of Ferris E. Lucas, NSA past president (1944-46) and executive director (1964-82), who completed 50 years of distinguished service and leadership in law enforcement. This year’s award is sponsored by Pursuit Products Inc.

In 2008, Babeu won his first term in a landslide election victory over the incumbent sheriff. Since being elected as the Pinal County sheriff, he has become one of the most progressive Sheriffs in the country.

Babeu has earned both statewide and national attention for his strong stance against illegal immigration. His stance and actions against those responsible for drug and human trafficking has earned him the distinction as one of America’s toughest sheriffs on illegal immigration.

Under Sheriff Babeu’s direction, the PCSO has acquired both innovative equipment and technology through $7,000,000 in grant funding. Citizens of Pinal County used to have to wait up to 15 minutes for a deputy to respond, the response time has now been cut in half.

Babeu is a strong proponent of regional efforts to improve public safety. The approach has allowed all agencies within Pinal County to pool their resources and work together, saving money and improving service. Thanks to Babeu, Pinal County now has a Regional SWAT, Traffic and Narcotics Task Force.

Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “I'm very humbled by this recognition for the exemplary work of our staff, volunteers and the strong community support by the public,” Babeu said. “We will not let up, but strive for further agency improvements in an effort to best protect our families."

National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) is the largest association of law enforcement professionals in the United States, representing more than 3,000 elected sheriffs across the nation, and a total membership of more than 20,000. NSA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the level of professionalism among sheriffs, their deputies and others in the field of criminal justice and public safety.

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The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office was asked Friday by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office to assist with the Monument wildfire in southeastern Arizona.

PSCO sent 12 members to Cochise County yesterday morning, where they began to assist Cochise deputies with the evacuation of residents from 2,500 homes.

The deputies will also patrol areas that have been evacuated as a result of the Monument fire to ensure nobody is left behind and individual’s homes and property are secured.


“Arizonans need to pull together during this difficult time,” Sheriff Paul Babeu said. “Our beautiful state has several fires burning and as a result, residents have been forced to evacuate their homes. [Cochise County] Sheriff Dever has asked for help during this very difficult time to assist with evacuations and to give residents peace of mind that after they have been evacuated their homes will be safe.

 “Our thoughts and prayers go out not only to the families who have been affected by these fires, but also for the brave firefighters who have put their lives in harm’s way to bring all of these devastating fires under control.”

For up-to-date information about Monument and other wildfires, visit