Citizens help apprehend fleeing drug smuggler

2013-04-26T10:39:00Z 2013-04-26T10:57:36Z Citizens help apprehend fleeing drug smugglerKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 26, 2013 10:39 am  • 

PINAL COUNTY — A suspected drug smuggler led a Pinal County sheriff’s deputy on a high-speed car chase, then a foot race before he was apprehended.

Just after 2 p.m. April 16, 2013, the deputy saw two vehicles traveling in tandem at a dangerously high rate of speed on Highway 84, just outside of Casa Grande, Tamra Ingersoll, spokeswoman for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, said in a news release. When he attempted a traffic stop, one of the vehicles, a blue Chevy Trailblazer fled.

The deputy pursued the Chevy, which accelerated to 80-miles-per-hour. The driver of the Chevy turned onto a dirt road. When he attempted to pass a car on the road, he lost control of the SUV and spun into a ditch.

The crash “kicked up a cloud of dust that obstructed the view of the pursuing deputy,” Ingersoll said. “When the dust settled, the deputy saw a male fleeing from the vehicle on foot. The deputy … began pursuing the suspect on foot in the direction of a cotton gin.

"Several workers inside the cotton gin had exited the business and witnessed the man fleeing from the deputy. The employees of the cotton gin began chasing the approaching suspect and assisted in detaining the subject until the deputy was able to handcuff the man.”

Once the suspect, 24-year-old Juan Ricardo Hernandez Mendivil of Mexico, was in custody, the deputy looked in the SUV and found 27 bundles of marijuana weighing 567 pounds. The pot had an estimated street value of $400,000, Ingersoll said.

Mendivil booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center on charges of possession of marijuana for sale, transportation of marijuana and unlawful flight.

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