Deported---and back in the U.S smuggling drugs two weeks later
Pinal Sheriff Paul Babeu says a man was back in the U.S. moving more than $1,000,000 in drugs about two weeks after he was deported. Video by kgun9.comvideo
Francisco Guillermo Morales was in custody October 13 but all authorities could prove was an immigration violation. Immigration officials allowed him to voluntarily return to Mexico.
Reporter: Craig Smith
FLORENCE, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has another big drug bust on his hands and he's calling this one a glaring example of failed immigration policy.
The sheriff has been one of the biggest critics of U.S. immigration policy and enforcement.
Sheriff Babeu says if Federal authorites had prosecuted and imprisoned smuggling suspect Francisco Guillermo Morales as a repeat immigration violator, he wouldn't have been back two weeks later with 80 pounds of heroin in his car.
Deputies say they found $1.5 million worth of heroin and meth in Francisco Morales car after they spotted him driving fifty miles per hour through a school zone, he led them on a three mile chase and tried to run down a deputy.
But Morales was under arrest about two weeks before---caught in an earlier smuggling investigation. So how was he free to be back, and charged with moving more than a million in drugs half a month later?
Babeu says, "The slang is catch and release".
The official term is voluntary return.
Babeu says on the earlier arrest they only had enough evidence to tag Morales for illegal immigration.
Instead of prosecuting and jailing him for that, Federal authorities simply sent him back to Mexico after he agreed not to fight deportation.
Babeu says soon Morales was back in Arizona with one and a half million in drugs to deliver---a load so valuable it suggests this was not his first smuggling run.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "If he's carrying something with that much concentrated dollar value does that suggest he is a particularly trusted drug runner?"
Babeu: "Absolutely. Any of these members are. And here about enforcement. If you betray the cartels, guess what happens? You die."
Babeu says if Federal authorities had not let Morales choose the no dispute, voluntary return that rushed him back to Mexico Morales might have been in detention or headed for prison time instead of headed north with a trunkload of drugs.
Sheriff Babeu says he worries if he handed Francisco Morales to federal authorities they might offer a plea bargain that would let Morales off easy. He says he has plenty of state charges that should keep Morales in state custody for quite awhile.