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Feb 20, 2014 7:26 PM by Michelle Erwin

Several arrests made in connection with smuggling ring

SELLS, Ariz. - The Tohono O'odham Police Department has announced that a joint federal and tribal task force has moved to take down a major drug and human trafficking ring.

After months of investigation, a dozen members of the suspected smuggling operation are now under arrest and indictments for four more have been filed in Pima County Superior Court.

The two-month investigation uncovered an organization that was responsible for smuggling up to 600 kilograms of marijuana and 120 undocumented migrants per month through the Tohono O'odham Nation to Tucson.

A review of financial information revealed that the primary defendant, Pauline Grijalva, laundered approximately $350,000 through financial institutions during the three years immediately preceding the investigation. The task force seized 76 kilograms of marijuana, 8 motor vehicles, 2 ATVs, and $17,000 in cash during the execution of three search warrants.

In addition to the arrest of Pauline Grijalva who is a U.S. citizen, the task force also made arrests of nine members of her suspected smuggling organization. Five of the suspects are U.S. citizens and four are undocumented Mexican nationals.

In January, two additional suspected members of the smuggling ring, both U.S. citizens, were arrested as they were guiding a group of undocumented migrants around a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint in Three Points.

The indictment has 17 separate charges, including conducting a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to transport marijuana and to commit human smuggling, among other charges.

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