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Multi-Agency Operation Yields More than 3,020 Pounds of Marijuana

Extensive operation in the Vekol Valley

Monday, December 20, 2010 -

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More than 3,020 pounds of marijuana were seized and 49 suspects arrested following a cooperative law enforcement operation in the Vekol Valley that ended Sunday.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) led the multi-agency operation, which began Wednesday and featured agents, officers, and deputies from the Bureau of Land Management, the Pinal and Maricopa county sheriff’s offices, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement Removal Operations, ICE Homeland Security Investigations, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations and CBP Office of Border Patrol (OBP). Police departments from Gila River and Eloy also participated in the operation, which concentrated enforcement efforts in Pinal County and the Vekol Valley.

“Seizing this much marijuana will make a substantial impact in depriving drug smugglers from their profits. The scope of the problem in Vekol Valley was so large that only a multi-agency task force of this size could make a difference. DPS is proud to have led this effort,” said Robert Halliday, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The Vekol Valley operation is one of a continuing series of coordinated operations intended to focus the resources of local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies on disrupting and reducing the illicit flow of guns, money, drugs and illegal aliens in both directions across the border.

“The sharing of intelligence resources between, state, county and federal authorities was the key to seizing tons of marijuana being prepared for distribution across the country,” said Director Halliday.

The operation, which used OBP, detection equipment and air assets from the CBP Office of Air and Marine, displayed the unprecedented level of cooperation, coordination and communication that has taken place among agencies across Arizona to deny, degrade, disrupt and dismantle criminal smuggling organizations.

Local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies across Arizona are working together to make major strides in achieving their common goal of making our country safer. These agencies are working together diligently to share vital information on current smuggling trends which has lead to a number of mutually beneficial, intelligence-driven operations.

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The Arizona Department of Public Safety is a state-level law enforcement agency whose mission is to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws, deterring criminal activity and providing vital support to the State of Arizona and its citizens.