Four Tucson-area men arrested in seizure
By Jon Johnson
GREENLEE COUNTY – The Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office seized more than 100 pounds of cocaine early Tuesday morning after pulling over a semi truck hauling the drug on U.S. Highway 78.
The cocaine was valued at roughly $2.3 million. The semi truck, an SUV, and two firearms were also confiscated.
“It is an unusual amount for Greenlee County, however, we did our due diligence in taking it off the road, which we would do whether it was a large amount or small amount,” said Greenlee County Chief Deputy Eric Ellison. “No matter what, we’re happy to help the community eradicate drugs.”
Four men from the Tucson area were arrested in the seizure and charged with transportation of a narcotic drug for sale. Those arrested include Adrian Cardenas, 30, Ruben Cisneros, 47, and Jose Herrera, 41, all of Tucson, and Rafael Teran, 46, of Sahuarita. The men were booked into the jail on a myriad of drug charges, including possession of a narcotic drug, possession of a narcotic drug for sale, transportation of a narcotic drug for sale, participating in a criminal syndicate, possession of a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony and failure to give an accurate answer to authorities.
According to a release from the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office, the men were reportedly going to make a stop in Clifton before continuing on to their destination. They gave varying destinations but mostly said they were on their way to Texas.
Ellison made a traffic stop on the SUV for speeding as it was eastbound on Highway 78 and said he felt that despite the two men’s insistence inside that the SUV was not traveling with the semi truck that the two vehicles were together. Ellison said the men were extremely nervous when questioned about the semi truck, and so he informed Sheriff Tim Sumner, who happened to be about a mile up ahead. Sumner then pulled over the semi truck for a license plate infraction. Cardenas and Cisneros were in the SUV, and Herrera and Teran were in the semi truck.
Back at the SUV, Ellison discovered a personal amount of marijuana and a firearm and began to search the vehicle. At that time, he located an identification card to one of the two men in the semi truck that Sumner had identified over the radio. Ellison then joined Sumner at the semi truck and, after initially approving a search the suspects then denied the authorities to freely search the truck. By then Sumner had already discovered a firearm and the driver was a prohibited possessor and was driving on a suspended license. The authorities went ahead with a tow inventory and soon discovered the load of narcotics.
The Sheriff’s Office wasn’t originally sure what type of narcotic it had seized and believed it might have been fentanyl, but testing performed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Tucson Lab showed it to be cocaine.
The Graham County Sheriff’s Office joined with DPS, Clifton Police Department and Greenlee County to provide security as the evidence was processed at the jail. The drugs were transported to Tucson on Tuesday morning for testing and storage and were escorted by six police officers from four different agencies.
“We are pleased to remove this quantity of drugs from getting to the streets all throughout America,” the release stated. “GCSO is committed to the fight against drug eradication.”