Officials seized 85 pounds of cocaine and arrested nine people in connection with Tucson-based drug ring that operated in multiple states.

Local and federal authorities arrested nine people last week, in connection with a Tucson-based drug trafficking ring that ran between Arizona, Nevada and Illinois, officials said.

As part of a three-year investigation, agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations, FBI investigators, Chicago police, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Pima County Sheriff's Department employees worked together to dismantle the ring which is believed to have smuggled significant quantities of cocaine, according to an ICE news release.

On June 28, a federal grand jury in Arizona issued a multi-count indictment which includes charges of identity theft, money laundering and possessing, manufacturing and selling illegal drugs, the news release said.

On July 10, agents arrested six Tucson residents in connection with the indictment, including the organization's suspected ringleader, 44-year-old Rene Marcos Vera. Also arrested were 35-year-old Raquel Ann Stansberry, 50-year-old Cesar Diaz German, 58-year-old Rosella Maria DeLeon, 38-year-old Richard Andrew Leon and 22-year-old Rene Marcos Vera II.

Tawney Warner, 31, and Joseph Sorce, 41, were both arrested in Chicago in connection with the incident.

The ninth person arrested was not named in the news release.

In addition to the arrests, the investigation has resulted in the seizure of more than 85 pounds of cocaine, 17 vehicles, eight properties estimated to be worth more than $2.5 million, four bank accounts and more than $145,500 in U.S. currency, the news release said.

The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Arizona.

Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at or 573-4191


I'm a watchdog reporter covering local government, the University of Arizona and sports investigations.