Friday, June 1, 2012

Major Federal Gang and Drug Operation Yields Multiple Arrests on the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation

Written by Yuma News Now 

Phoenix, Arizona - A federal grand jury has indicted 19 individuals, 18 of whom have now been arrested, following an intensive gang and drug enforcement operation on the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation. Charges filed in this investigation include drug trafficking and firearms violations, as well as charges stemming from a gang-related assault.

“The United States Attorney’s Office remains committed to the important mission of fighting crime in Indian Country,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Ann Birmingham Scheel. “Those involved in gang activity and drug trafficking will find that Arizona’s Indian reservations do not provide safe havens for criminal activity. I commend the FBI and its federal, state, and local partners for the multi-agency investigation that led to these indictments and arrests.”

FBI SAC James L. Turgal stated, “The Federal Bureau of Investigation takes very seriously the safety of our streets and communities all across the state of Arizona. These indictments and arrests are the culmination of efforts by the FBI, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and our partners on the Northern Arizona Violent Gang and Safe Streets Task Force, which includes ATF and DEA. The FBI will continue to combat drug trafficking and violent crimes on the Indian Reservation and utilize our relationships with our task force partners to keep the citizens of our community safe.”

This investigation was spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Arizona Department of Public Safety as part of the FBI’s Northern Arizona Violent Gang and Safe Streets Task Force. The Bureau of Indian Affairs provided significant assistance with this investigation. The Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and the Flagstaff Police Department also assisted in the investigation and arrests.

Convictions for the drug distribution charges alleged carry maximum penalties ranging from five years to life in prison and maximum fines ranging from $250,000 to $10,000,000. Convictions for the firearms violations carry a maximum penalty of life in prison and maximum fines of $250,000. Convictions for the assault charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and maximum fines of $250,000. In determining an actual sentence, the assigned federal judges will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judges, however, are not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges and arrests are anticipated. The prosecution is being handled by Dimitra H. Sampson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.

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