The Main Stream

Aug 10, 2012 9:23 PM

Turf wars among smugglers

TUCSON - Homicides are down in Pima County but there's been a spike in murders involving drug and human smugglers.

On April 9, Captain Chris Nanos says, "Some thugs opened up basically with automatic rifles on their truck killing two individuals."

Detective Luis Cornidez is heading that investigation. At the scene they found numerous spent AK-47 type casings.

"We've executed a number of search warrants and have obtained quite a bit of evidence," he says. "We've found several AK-47 style rifles and also ammunition."

Items that have been sent to the lab to be analyzed for DNA and fingerprints.

Along another known smuggling path, a man's body was found in an advanced stage of decomposition on July 10th.

Evidence of gunfire was located at the scene.

The most gruesome of all January 6, a man's torso was found in another known smuggling area.

So why the spike in homicides involving drug and human smugglers? Captain Nanos says, "Intelligence gathered from federal partners says there's a turf war between those two groups."

It has to do with the smuggling routes.

Pointing to a map, Captain Nanos says, "The Santa Rosa mountains is the dividing line. Human trafficking is to the west of the mountains, and drug traffickers use the eastern side. But sometimes they cross over and vice versa. The smugglers know it draws law enforcement attention to them and they don't want the cross over so because of that we're seeing a spike."

That's why Captain Nanos says they're working closely with Border Patrol and DEA analyzing the situation, sending resources to try and attack what could become a huge problem.

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