Sonita, Ariz. - On June 8, a 20-mile vehicle pursuit south of Sonoita, Ariz., involving a Santa Cruz County Sheriff's office deputy, Sonoita Station Border Patrol agents and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter culminated with the seizure of a sports utility vehicle more than 1,200 pounds of marijuana and the apprehension and prosecution of two smugglers by Mexican authorities.
The incident began when the deputy attempted to conduct a routine vehicle traffic stop on the SUV. The deputy was not aware the SUV was loaded with the marijuana and occupied by illegal aliens. The subjects attempted to avoid capture leading a 20-mile pursuit on remote dirt roads which eventually involved Border Patrol agents and a CBP helicopter providing assistance. As the events unfolded south of Parker Canyon Lake, international coordination efforts with Mexican authorities were already underway.
Subsequently, while speeding along the border road, the SUV became stuck on large rocks and the two subjects abandoned the vehicle to run south into Mexico. Mexican authorities were waiting and immediately took the two subjects into custody. The narcotics in the SUV, with an estimated value of more than $600,000, were seized by U.S. authorities.
Evidence was compiled in an interagency and bi-national united effort between the SCCSO, Tucson Sector Border Patrol and several Mexican law enforcement agencies in an unprecedented and successful attempt to secure prosecution of the two subjects in Mexico for narcotics smuggling crimes committed in the U.S.
According to CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin, the level of cooperation is unprecedented. He said agencies on both sides of the international border are committed to open interagency communication.
"The apprehension and the prosecution of these two individuals by Mexican authorities for smuggling drugs into the U.S. is a great achievement for law enforcement agencies in the states of Arizona and Sonora, Mexico," he said. "This accomplishment exemplifies the continuing progress in a bi-national collaboration to increase border security along the southwest border."