A routine traffic stop by police officers in Casa Grande earlier this month has turned into one of the largest drug busts in Arizona’s state history.
NBC affiliate, 12 reports that on Thursday, May 14th, Casa Grande Police officers pulled over a 2008 Buick sedan that was traveling westbound on Interstate 10. Two men were inside the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop.
According to a spokesperson with the Casa Grande Police Department, the driver, Luis Estrada, told officers that he was a citizen of Mexico. Estrada’s passenger, Aubrey Salazar, had an ID that was issued by the State of Arizona.
During the traffic stop, officers at the scene found evidence of drugs in the car. Estrada and Salazar were placed under arrests while officers continued to search the vehicle.
The search revealed that the vehicle contained 1.5 pounds of cocaine, 138 pounds of heroin, 50 lbs of fentanyl pills. The drugs had been concealed within a spare tire and other portions of the vehicle.
Casa Grande Police Chief Mark McCrory told reporters, “This seizure ultimately saved lives and prevented suffering to many families across the country. “ Chief McCrory also indicated that a drug seizure this large disrupts drug operations not only within Arizona but beyond.
The Casa Grande Police officers that pulled the two smugglers over were a part of the Operation Stonegarden grant. The operation, which began in 2011 is a joint effort between Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Border Patrol, and local, county, state, federal and tribal law enforcement agencies.
The Casa Grande Police Department received some $394,240 in federal grant monies for its role in the operation.