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Oct 10, 2012 5:00 PM by Ian Cross

Pinal Sheriff forming armed anti-smuggling volunteer posse

FLORENCE, Ariz. - Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu announced the creation of an armed "Anti-Smuggling Posse," comprised of unpaid volunteers, to assist the sheriff's office in "fighting the rampant drug smuggling in Pinal County."

According to a news release from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, the ASP will provide "surveillance and intelligence support to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office Regional SWAT during tactical operations they perform against the Mexican Drug Cartels in western Pinal County."

Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, "The creation of the armed Anti-Smuggling Posse will assist our tactical team and narcotics task force as they continue to track, identify and arrest those responsible for drug and human trafficking in Pinal County. The cartels of Mexico have between 75 to 100 lookout posts through this known drug and human smuggling corridor. They use these high vantage points to ensure their loads, whether they are humans or drugs, make it through. The armed Anti-Smuggling Posse with help provide additional strength to our operations to ensure the safety of our citizens and our members. We will continue to bring the heavy hand of enforcement to those who think they can smuggle drugs or humans through Pinal County."

ASP members are required to pass a full background investigation, and will be trained on Pinal Sheriff's Office Policy and Procedures, the news release stated. The armed posse members will be required to take quarterly training and qualifications. The members will receive tactical training before any operations.

State Senator Sylvia Allen stated, "I have worked on legislation over the years to create a State Guard to help protect our citizens against those involved with drug and human smuggling which comes through our state every day. I am proud to stand by Sheriff Babeu as he took some of my ideas and created an armed Anti-Smuggling Posse. While the Federal Government is not doing their job to protect our State as your State Senator, I will stand with law enforcement as they do."

Tune in to News 4 Tucson this evening for a full report on the ASP program.

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