So far, the details are slim but Arizona residents in Phoenix were shocked this week when the U.S. Border Patrol announced that it had arrested 12 people at its Ajo station under suspicion of smuggling drugs into the United States.
According to officers, the U.S. Border Patrol called in air support during the nighttime hours after spotting a group of people who they suspected to be drug smugglers. When agents approached the suspects, police claim that the group was carrying bundles with them. When the bundles were searched, what appeared to be marijuana was seen and all 12 people were arrested.
Authorities in Tucson claim that nearly 1,250 pounds of marijuana were seized by patrol agents, its estimated worth running about $625,000, police say.
Drug possession and distribution has been a constant struggle for Arizona police for quite some time now, and situations such as this highlight the seriousness of crimes such as this and what the likely sentencing could be.
According to Arizona drug laws, the trafficking and production of marijuana can automatically constitute as a felony charge, and depending on the amount, the severity of the penalty can increase. Not only do these felony charges come with steep prison sentences, but they also can carry hefty fines for persons who are convicted of such crimes.
Because the investigation is ongoing, it's unclear at this time what charges prosecutors will try to accuse the suspects of being involved in; though it is likely that the suspects will seek legal representation to make sure that investigators do not over extend their reach in the case.
Source: ABC 15 News, "Border Patrol agents seize 1,250 pounds of marijuana, arrest 12 in Arizona," The Associated Press, Jan. 17, 2013