Posted: Jun 18, 2013 6:16 PM by Rebecca Taylor
Updated: Jul 29, 2013 2:09 PM
UPDATE: The suspects charged with trafficking cocaine were arraigned Tuesday. All defendants plead guilty, except for a few who were granted a continuence.
SIERRA VISTA - Nineteen people are under arrest, all linked to a cocaine trafficking ring based in Cochise County.
The group includes Mario Serrano a Cochise County detention officer, before the feds busted him.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents tell News4 Tucosn the ring operated primarily in Sierra Vista and Bisbee but had connections across Southern Arizona. The coke reportedly originated in Mexico.
The arrests come after a yearlong investigation. The top lawman in Cochise County says when it comes to drugs and crime, there's a zero tolerance policy, especially among his deputies.
"When you violate that trust and that oath, you can no longer work for the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, or in my opinion any law enforcement agency," said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels in reference to Serrano, a 12-year department veteran.
"We hold positions of trust, both with the community and law enforcement," said Dannels.
In all, the investigation netted 19 people. Five from Tucson, eight from Bisbee, one from Phoenix and Douglas, Two from Hereford and two from Sierra Vista.
Coincidentally, arrestee Eugene Hagele lives a stone's throw from a Cochise County Sheriff's Department substation in Sierra Vista. His roommate claimed Hagele's innocence and before slamming the door, told our camera crew to mind our business.
The feds made it their business and over the past 12 months built their case.
They say traffickers would input Mexican cocaine to Tucson, and then distribute it to dealers and customers thought Bisbee and Sierra Vista.
"We're not talking big amounts, but we are talking a kilo every, about a couple kilos a month that was then being resold," said DEA Agent Ramona Sanchez.
While two suspects are still being sought, Sierra Vista resident Wilma Moses is pleased with the effort.
"I've lived here 30 years and I think it's phenomenal we had this investigation, I'm all for it, great great job," she said.
The 19 suspects arrested are expected to be arraigned Tuesday in Pima County.
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