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AG Tom Horne Announces Sentencing of High-Ranking Cartel Member

FLORENCE (Thursday, April 26, 2012) -- Attorney General Tom Horne announced today that Hilario Aguirre of Stanfield, Arizona has been sentenced in Pinal County Superior Court to twenty years in the Department of Corrections for his role as high-ranking member of a Mexico based drug trafficking organization. The organization Aguirre was involved with is responsible for the importation of tens of thousands of pounds of marijuana and hundreds of pounds of heroin and cocaine since the summer of 2010. 

On October 11, 2010, members of the Pinal County Narcotics Taskforce learned that a large horse property in Stanfield near the Tohono O'odham Reservation was being used to store marijuana. Law enforcement obtained a search warrant and discovered 306 bundles of marijuana weighing a staggering 5,044 pounds. Additionally, officers arrested three individuals at the property who were suspected of backpacking the marijuana across the Tohono O'odham Reservation and another who was a close associate of Aguirre. 

Aguirre, the property owner, was taken into custody while he was conducting counter-surveillance in preparation for the shipment of marijuana not far from the property. During his subsequent interview, he confessed his involvement with the drug trafficking organization but provided false information about the others who may be involved. Following Aguirre's arrest, law enforcement expanded their investigation, dubbed Operation Pipeline Express, and learned that one of Aguirre's brothers was the United States based leader of the organization. 

Aguirre was indicted in October 2010 following the investigation. On March 29, a Pinal County jury found him guilty of conspiracy to possess and transport marijuana, illegally conducting an enterprise and possession of marijuana for sale. The jury also found two aggravating factors which were considered by Judge Bradley Soos to aggravate his sentence. At sentencing, Judge Soos found two additional aggravating factors including the substantial amount of the marijuana and noted that the Mr. Aguirre had been arrested for other charges related to the sale of methamphetamine a mere twelve days before the this incident. In light of these aggravating factors, Mr. Aguirre was sentenced to two twenty year sentences on the conspiracy and marijuana charge and fifteen years on the illegal enterprise charge. All sentences are to run concurrently. 

The Pinal County Narcotics Taskforce consists of officers from the United States Department of Homeland Security, Florence Police Department, Coolidge Police Department, Pinal County Sheriff's Office and the Department of Public Safety.