Posted: Jul 9, 2012 11:55 AM
Updated: Jul 9, 2012 11:56 AM
FLORENCE - Fifteen people have been arrested after a month-long undercover narcotics investigation at several truck stops on Interstate 10 between Eloy and Toltec.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Task Force received a tip that dealers were selling significant amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine to trucks drivers and others at several truck stops and truck washes on I-10, according to a news release from the sheriff's office.
Using an undercover big rig truck, detectives posed as buyers at several stops, including Flash Truck Polishing located at 3200 N Chesley Street in Toltec and Show Time Truck Polishing located at 526 S Sunshine Blvd. in Eloy.
After building a case with "Operation Big Rig," sheriffs and Eloy Police served four search warrants: one at Flash Truck Polishing, and three at residential homes in Eloy and Toltec.
Nine people, including owners Hector Soto-Quintero and Rafael Rios, were arrested, the release states. Four people, as well as Soto-Quintero, were in the U.S. illegally from Mexico.
During the investigation, 24.8 grams of meth, 9.8 grams of cocaine, eight vehicles, one rifle, and $26,000 in cash was seized in total, the release states.
Eight of the 15 people arrested have been identified by Pinal Sheriff's, four were turned over to U.S. Border patrol, and three were arrested for other warrants.
The following suspects face charges of Possession of Dangerous Drug, Possession of a Dangerous Drug for Sale, Transportation of Dangerous Drug, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia:
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 of Flash Truck Polishing
Ricardo Sodari, 37, Arizona City
Hector Soto-Quintero, 44, Eloy - Co-Owner of 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."
1 - The eight identified suspects arrested after the month-long investigation.
2 - Flash Truck Polishing pictured during PCNTF Operation Big
3- Cash seized inside one of the suspect's residence.
Images courtesy Pinal County Sheriff's Office
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