MCSO Arrests 3 of Their Own in Smuggling Case - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

MCSO Arrests 3 of Their Own in Smuggling Case

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After a year-long investigation, Sheriff Joe Arpaio says his office has broken up a drug and human smuggling ring in which 3 of their own officers were caught up in.

One deputy and two detention officers were among 12 others arrested Tuesday.

They have been identified as Deputy Sheriff Alfredo Navarrette, Detention Officer Silvia Rios-Najera, and Detention Officer Marcella Hernandez, all ICE-trained officers.

They are accused of tipping off drug traffickers and human smugglers about ongoing investigations.

Hernandez allegedly had an ongoing personal relationship with a major drug kingpin and was 8-months pregnant with his child. According to court documents, she arranged the transfer of multiple heroin loads and allowed her boyfriend's drug trafficking organization to use her two houses as stash houses.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation is that Navarrette used to work in the anti-human smuggling unit for a short time, and when officers raided his house, they found two illegal immigrants being housed inside.

According to court documents, 37-year-old Navarrette was a member of the drug trafficking organization and drove load vehicles, laundered money, and transported illegal immigrants from Arizona to California, among many other duties.

Navarrette, an 11-year veteran of the force, has admitted to the crimes, the Sheriff says.

"We did not know for sure until today, when he admitted passing information on to the drug traffickers... whether you're investigating a crooked cop or not, you have to be concerned about leaks," he says.

Silvia Rios-Najera allegedly conspired with Navarrette to launder drug proceeds through several front companies.

Several law enforcement agencies assisted in serving 16 search warrants at homes and businesses across the valley Tuesday. Authorities seized 10 pounds of heroin, along with weapons and stolen property.

Seven additional sheriff's employees are still being investigated for similar crimes.

The charges

Hernandez was charged with illegal control of enterprise, three counts of using electronic communication during a drug transaction, managing/financing a criminal syndicate, two counts of money laundering, conspiracy to sell or transport narcotic drugs, and three counts of possession of narcotic drugs for transportation or sale. She is being held on a $2 million cash bond.

Navarrette was charged with 19 counts, including assisting in a criminal syndicate, smuggling humans, and money laundering. He is being held on $1 million cash bond.

Rios-Najera was charged with illegal control of enterprise, money laundering, using electronic communication during a drug transaction, and participating in a criminal syndicate. She is being held on $36,000 cash bond.

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