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Jul 6, 2012 9:49 PM

Drug trafficking bust has Tucson ties

TUCSON - A sign violent, Mexican drug cartels are pushing farther north: Drug Enforcement Administration officials announced they busted a drug-trafficking operation, linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Operation Nayarit Stampede, stretched from the border, to Tucson and Tempe. Then, it fanned out to California, Alabama, and New York.

The six month investigation resulted in 20 arrests, 15 search warrants, and the recovery of 14 firearms.

Law enforcement also recovered $2.4 in cash, three tons of marijuana, and 30 pounds of meth.

In Tucson, a house located in the foothills near First Avenue and River Road was a stash house for the cartel. DEA says they located 260 bales weighing 6,500 lbs of marijuana inside. The house was used to repackage the pot and then it was shipped out of state.

The owner of the house says he had no idea he was renting to a drug cartel. He told News 4 a woman rented the house on May 7th, and the feds busted it on May 25th. He says the house was left in a disaster with grease, detergent, and plastic wrappings throughout the house. They had to mop the floor 30 times to get the grease out.

One of the neighbors who wanted to remain anonymous saw the bust unfold. She says there were over a dozen vehicles belonging to various agencies. They had weapons pulled including assault rifles.

The property owner says they arrested six people in the house including a 14-year-old boy.

Neighbors says the cartel probably picked their Foothills neighborhood because it was quiet, and they probably felt no one would ever think a stash house was there. However, while that stash house has been shut down, they feel the cartel will probably turn up in someone else's neighborhood.

Agencies involved include, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Maricopa County Sheriff's Department, Phoenix Police Department, ASU Police Department, HIDTA, Maricopa County Drug Suppression Task Force, Attorney General's Office, Tucson Police Department, DEA Nogales, DEA Alabama, DEA Phoenix, Pima County Sheriff's Department, Mesa Police Department and Surprise Police Department.

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