(Phoenix, Ariz. – Sept. 13, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced the indictment of 16 individuals believed to be members of a Mexican drug cartel that smuggled large quantities of marijuana, cocaine and heroin into Arizona. They have been charged with conspiracy, illegally conducting an enterprise and other crimes related to their involvement.
The defendants include Roque Aceves-Beltran, 45; Rey Cuen-Villareal, 38, of Phoenix; Teresa Cuen-Leon, 33, of Phoenix; Evodio Cruz-Beltran, 39, of Los Angeles; and Jose Munoz-Alcaraz, 49, of Mexico. The remaining defendants will not be named until they are served.
“Today, Arizona law enforcement strikes another blow against the cartels' smuggling efforts. These organized criminals are highly sophisticated smugglers,” Goddard said. “We must expand our efforts to investigate and dismantle the cartels to truly secure our border with Mexico.”
Beginning in 2009, the Phoenix Police Department and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration began an investigation into the cartel and its drug-smuggling operations. The persons indicted were responsible for importing significant quantities of marijuana, cocaine and heroin into the United States through southern Arizona and into the Phoenix area. From Phoenix, the drugs were shipped to Illinois, North Carolina and other states.
Drugs or money were often hidden within the drive shafts of the defendants' vehicles as they crossed the border. During the execution of a warrant, officers found three disassembled drive shafts at the residence of one of the suspects. Two of the drive shafts were packed with large quantities of cocaine.
In another instance, officers stopped a southbound vehicle and found $143,500 hidden within the drive shaft. In total, this investigation led to the seizure of 36 pounds of cocaine, four pounds of heroin, 40 pounds of marijuana and close to $2.25 million in racketeering proceeds.
This case was investigated by the Phoenix Police Department and the U. S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Matt Conti.
Attached is a copy of the indictment. For more information, contact Press Secretary Molly Edwards at (602) 542-8019.