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A U.S. district judge sentenced the leader of a marijuana trafficking organization to 25 years in prison Monday, according to authorities.

Carlos Correa, 29, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 2,200 pounds of marijuana, according to a news release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office. He had been previously sentenced in state court for the slaying of a person involved in the trafficking organization, the release said.

Correa of Hereford, about 18 miles southeast of Sierra Vista, is the last of eight federal defendants to be sentenced in a multi-agency investigation into the marijuana-smuggling enterprise, according to the release.

Authorities started investigating Correa’s drug smuggling enterprise in June 2015, after Border Patrol agents at the Willcox checkpoint found a car filled with marijuana and seized a phone containing photos of firearms with obliterated serial numbers, narcotics packaged for distribution and large sums of money, the news release said.

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After investigating the drug smuggling enterprise led by Correa for eight months, authorities arrested more than 20 people for related offenses, the U.S. District Attorney’s Office said.

Border Patrol, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and a number of agencies including the state Attorney General’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Sierra Vista Police Department worked together on the investigation and seized more than 4,000 pounds of marijuana and several firearms including an AR-15 and an AK-47.

On Feb 26, 2016, Correa killed a fellow drug organization member during a dispute involving marijuana load payments, the release said. Correa pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Cochise County and was sentenced to 16 years in prison in that case.

Contact reporter Stephanie Casanova at On Twitter: @CasanovaReports


Stephanie is a Tucson native and graduated from the University of Arizona in 2014. She worked for newspapers in Rapid City, South Dakota; Manhattan, Kansas; and Lake Havasu City before moving back to Tucson.