A yearlong Drug Enforcement Administration investigation has culminated in the arrests of 18 people connected to a cocaine-trafficking organization operating in Cochise County, a federal agent said.
Three others are still being sought.
The investigation targeted drug-trafficking activity in the Sierra Vista and Bisbee areas, but suspects from Tucson were arrested as well. Traffickers would import cocaine from Mexico, transport the drug to Tucson, "then distribute the cocaine to street-level dealers and end users throughout Bisbee and Sierra Vista," Special Agent Ramona Sanchez, spokeswoman for the DEA, said in a news release.
Arrest and search warrants were issued Monday and Tuesday for suspected members of the ring and their stash houses in Tucson, Sierra Vista, Bisbee and Douglas, Sanchez said.
Among those arrested was Cochise County Sheriff's Office detention officer Mario Serrano of Bisbee.
Others were: Miguel Cota, Sonia Chavez, Denise Moroyoqui, Manual Galindo and Luis Cantu of Tucson; Jesus Armando Moroyoqui Sr., Francisco Moroyoqui, Fabianna Mata, Daniel Lopez, Melissa Jimenez and Juan Dorame of Bisbee; Nazariah Rashed and Eugene Hagele of Sierra Vista; Antonio Fierros and Ronald O. Thomas Jr. of Hereford; and Victor Manuel Laguna of Douglas.
Suspects will face charges that include conspiracy to import, transport, sell and possess cocaine; money laundering; sale and transportation of a narcotic drug for sale; and use of a wire or electronic communication in a drug offense. All 18 suspects are tentatively scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Pima County Superior Court.
The investigation was led by the DEA with assistance from the Sierra Vista and Bisbee police departments, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations and the Arizona Attorney General's Office, Sanchez said.