More bad news today for Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio: following news that he misspent $100 million in taxpayer funds and failed to investigate 400 sex crimes cases, “America’s Toughest Sheriff” found himself sporting another black eye yesterday after the arrest of three employees involved in a drug- and human-trafficking ring.
Deputy Alfredo Navarrette and detention officers Sylvia Najera and Marcella Hernandez are accused of laundering money, moving drugs for a trafficking organization with ties to Mexico, and using intelligence from the Sheriff’s office to guide smugglers through Arizona’s Maricopa County.
Investigators say that the ring mostly moved heroin through the county, and would traffic about $56,000 worth of drugs a week. The raid yesterday netted 10 pounds of heroin, and nearly $200,000 in cash, weapons, vehicles, and stolen property.
Navarette has worked with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) for nearly a decade, at one point serving in a unit designed to target human smuggling. But it is believed that Navarette was himself a human smuggler; two undocumented immigrants were found in his home when he was arrested yesterday morning. He is being accused of 19 violations including conspiracy, money laundering, and human smuggling, and is being held on $1 million cash bond.