Drug business ran like a business, prosecutor says

2013-10-08T17:15:00Z 2013-10-09T07:47:53Z Drug business ran like a business, prosecutor saysBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The case against four people accused of operating a major drug-smuggling enterprise reads more like a business report than a television drama, Assistant Arizona Attorney General Joshua S. Moser told jurors in his closing arguments Tuesday.

That’s because the enterprise Juan Bernardino Araiza-Mancilla, Diana Audelo Sotelo, Norberto Monreal Morgan and Daniel Monreal Morgan are accused of running, operated openly and in predictable ways, he said.

The state accused all four of conspiracy to transport marijuana and cocaine, wire fraud, money laundering and illegally conducting an enterprise. Each also faces additional charges related to the operation

Evidence presented during the trial included wiretap recordings of phone calls between the defendants and others discussing what prosecutors said were coded conversations about transporting and selling drugs.

Sotelo’s attorney, Maria Davila, said the state failed to link her client to any drug business.

“None of their witnesses said anything about Diana Sotelo being involved in this drug business, yet she’s the manager?” Davila said. At best, she said, the evidence showed Sotelo may have been involved in smuggling illegal immigrants into the U.S. from Mexico.

Araiza-Mancilla’s attorney, Stephanie Meade, also argued the evidence of a large-scale drug operation was unconvincing.

Meade said terminology like “mules” used in some of the wiretap conversations could have been about illegal immigrants and not drugs.

The four defendants, all of whom have disappeared and are being tried in absentia, were among 15 people arrested in 2012 in connection with what the Attorney General’s Office said was a long-running drug-smuggling operation.

Jury deliberations are scheduled to continue today in Pima County Superior Court Judge Christopher Browning’s courtroom.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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