Elite squad of MCSO deputies track drug smugglers

Elite squad of MCSO deputies track drug smugglers

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - From the border, illegal narcotics move north through the deserts south of Maricopa County.

It's one of the busiest drug corridors in the state, thousands of square miles of open desert that smugglers use to move marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

An elite squad of Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies work to try and stop the flow of drugs into the valley.

The deputies work in small groups near Gila Bend, tracking smugglers the way a hunter tracks game. In this environment though the hunters can easily become the hunted.

In a video provided by MCSO, you can see a suspected armed drug smuggler being taken down near Gila Bend. "Policia! Down Mano! Get on the ground! Get on the ground!" said the Deputy.

The smugglers come by the dozens, each one carrying heavy packs of narcotics for 100 miles from Mexico. They have amazing endurance, and it takes a special type of lawman to catch them.

A lawman that is not only an investigator, but a tracker.

It is dangerous in the corridor, FOX 10 asked the deputy if he was worried about the smugglers taking a shot at him, he replied, "it's on my mind".

The deputy is part of a small specialized unit of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. They are charged with shutting down a stretch of desert used by the deadly Sinaloa Cartel to smuggle drugs into the United States.

Our guide did not want his face shown saying he has personally seized millions of dollars worth of product from the cartels. He knows he is always being watched by the people he's risking his life to find.

Scouts are sent out by the cartels to watch the movements of these deputies. We found one of their lookout points.

"From this mountain top you can see the trails all the way down to Interstate 8," he said. On our tour, we found a backpack with camouflage similar to what special operations forces use. It was empty, but a sign that somebody was looking for law enforcement.

Also at the site was a spatula and empty food and water containers, signs that the scouts were staked out for some time.

The cartels also know that law enforcement read their footprints to see where they came from and where they are headed. They disguise their tracks with carpet covered shoes.

"It's what we described earlier; you just slide them over your boot, and that keeps you from leaving distinct footprints, you leave a footprint with no ridges or anything like a tennis shoe or boot," he said.

FOX 10 asked him what came to mind when he found these carpet shoes, he replied "drug smugglers".

Drug smugglers who risk a lot for the payout of $500 they get for every pack they get to I-8. The packs are tightly packed full of narcotics, worth as much as $50,000 on the street.

It's why the cat and mouse struggle in the desert will not end anytime soon.
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