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Apr 30, 2013 8:02 PM by Lupita Murillo

Residents react to ASARCO employees arrest

HAYDEN- It's the talk of the town. Within minutes of one of the ASARCO mine employees getting arrested word traveled fast throughout the mining community.

Gene Garcia was arrested right after his shift change on Monday at ASARCO's Hayden mine.
Rene Arbizo an 18 year employee was also picked up. DPS officers say they were the "insiders" involved in an international ring. They also say both men were key players. Julisa Aragon's husband works at the mine. She says, "that's really low of them because that's putting my husband at risk for losing his job."

In this struggling economy she doesn't understand why these men would steal from the hand that feeds them.

DPS investigator Jim Oien and his unit have been following the money for the last seven months. He says this theft hurts the entire state. "This is a commodity that helps the entire state. The state gets revenue from this from taxes and everything else. It's basically taking the lifeblood out of Arizona and selling it off to China."

Arnold Contreras retired from ASARCO after 40 years. He too is disappointed, "Copper is our main product here, it's our main way of life. I guess they thought they could get away with it. But sooner or later crime doesn't pay."

Investigators say the theft ring had been at it since 2006, stealing more then $10 million worth of copper ingots. Gilbert Olmos says, "Money is money but people can do crazy things when they're given enough money."

Other residents News 4 spoke to say those possible for stealing the copper from ASARCO should go to jail.

ASARCO issued this statement, "ASARCO LLC truly thanks the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Arizona Attorney General's Office and commends them for their diligent efforts as part of the investigation of stolen copper anodes from ASARCO's Hayden facility. DPS promptly began investigating the stolen copper following the information ASARCO provided. ASARCO fully cooperated as part of this investigation and will continue to do so as the prosecution proceeds against those individuals identified as being involved. ASARCO is pleased that the information and
investigation has now led to the indictment of numerous people on scores of felony counts."

ASARCO is an integrated copper mining, smelting and refining company with approximately 2700 employees. The Company is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona and operates mines, mills and a smelter near Tucson and a refinery in Amarillo, Texas.

For more information, visit http://www.asarco.com

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