Sheriff Arpaio’s Deputies Accused of Working with Mexican Cartel, Prosecutor’s Error Could Free Them

Bill Montgomery
AP Photo
Phoenix, AZ

The heroin smuggling case against three former Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff’s Deputies is coming unraveled after prosecutors admitted a wiretap used in the case was never properly applied for. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced his office is seeking to dismiss the charges against three former deputies who were accused of assisting a cartel-connected heroin smuggling ring.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office who is prosecuting the case against the former deputies revealed that a wiretap application that is required to be filed for the purposes of electronic surveillance was never filed, according to a report on Fox News Latino. Following the revelation by prosecutors, defense attorneys asked the judge to throw out all of the evidence that was obtained using the wiretap.

Prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss the charges against the three former deputies and three other people, including the alleged ringleader of the smuggling operation. The alleged ringleader was said to be working with a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Eleven other people have already been convicted on charges arising from this wiretap. Prosecutors are also seeking to have those convictions vacated.

The type of dismissal being sought by prosecutors would allow for the re-filing of charges if other evidence can be found independent of the wiretap. “That wiretap was so critical to the case,” said Jerry Cobb, a spokesperson for the County Attorney’s Office.

The three former deputies worked for Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. They were arrested in 2011. The three were accused of helping smuggle heroin from Mexico into the Phoenix area. They were further charged with helping launder money from the proceeds through two companies.

Former Deputy Alfredo Aguirre Navarrette allegedly drove smuggling vehicles. He was, at one time, a member of Arpaio’s immigration squad. He allegedly was involved in the money laundering scheme and in providing information to the members of the drug ring from police databases.

Furthermore, former Deputy Navarrette was accused of helping a separate immigrant smuggling group. He was allegedly operating a stash house. He was also allegedly involved in transporting illegal immigrants in Arizona to locations in California. While he was out on bail, he was pulled over in a suspected smuggling vehicle. After that arrest he remained in jail pending trial.

Navarrette was originally arrested after a sweep of his home revealed undocumented immigrants hiding in his home according to a report by the New York Daily News.  They reported authorities in Maricopa County saying Navarrette used his position as a deputy to double-cross police.

The two other deputies were former jail officers. Marcella Marie Hernandez and Sylvia Rios Najera were allegedly involved in the money laundering scheme. Hernandez was pregnant at the time of her arrest with the child of the alleged ringleader of the smuggling operation.

If the judge grants the prosecutor’s request for dismissal the only charges that would remain would be arson and insurance fraud charges against Navarrette. He is accused of causing a car fire in 2010.

Navarrette was arrested in May, 2011 during a sting that picked him up along with eight other people. The raid was conducted at sixteen separate locations according the Daily News.

Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.