Twelve Nabbed In Drug Sweep

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Officers rousted 12 suspected drug criminals out of their beds and off their job sites early Thursday during a sting that agents said followed months of surveillance.


Agents headed out at sunrise Thursday to serve two search warrants and nearly two dozen arrest warrants on Rim country suspects who are allegedly involved in northern Gila County drug trafficking.


During the sweep, which officers dubbed Operation Hell's Gate, agents seized 760 pounds of marijuana, half a pound of methamphetamine, five ounces of cocaine, and three and a half ounces of heroin.


Agents also confiscated more than $20,000 in cash, five vehicles, two boats, two jet skis, one Harley Davidson motorcycle and 20 weapons.


Several of the people who were arrested have been involved in other crimes, police said, such as aggravated assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion, domestic violence and money laundering.

Agents expect to make additional arrests, drug seizures and confiscations in connection with Operation Hell's Gate.


"I hope that because we've taken an aggressive stance on narcotics enforcement," Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said, "it will continue to have a positive impact on our community and our problems with crime."


The sting was a joint operation conducted by the Gila County Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency during a six-month period, Gartner said. About 60 officers from various agencies participated in Thursday's roundup.


DEA Special Agent Jim Molesa said the DEA's Mobile Enforcement Team travels to rural areas all over the state to work on operations just like Operation Hell's Gate.


"We've done seven deployments in the past three years," Molesa said. Those operations took place in Casa Grande, Sierra Vista, Tuscyan, Flagstaff, Springerville, Lake Havasu City and Payson.

"This operation was typical of the numbers we usually pick up," Molesa said Thursday. "We pick up an average of 1 percent of the population. I'd say we got about 99 percent of what we came up here for today."


Agencies participating in Operation Hell's Gate included DEA-Phoenix Division Mobile Enforcement Team, Payson, Globe and Miami police departments, Gila County Sheriff's Department, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The suspects will face prosecution by the Gila County Attorney's Office.


The suspects

Those arrested in Operation Hell's Gate were:


•Heath Garrett Bell, 22 --Warrant for 3 counts for the sale of marijuana, sale of dangerous drugs;


•Holly Anne Bohlman, 29 --Warrant for conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs, sale of dangerous drugs, sale of marijuana;


•Michael Carl Bong, 44 --Warrant for sale of dangerous drugs, conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs;


•Robert Loy Cottrell, 36 --Warrant for conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs;


•Jeremiah Alan Davis, 19 -- Warrant for 2 counts for the sale of marijuana;


•Nerio Austre Figeuroa-Vega, 23 --Warrant for 3 counts for the sale of narcotic drugs;


•Eva Marie Jacquez, 26 --Warrant for sale of marijuana in a drug-free school zone, conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs, 2 counts for the sale of marijuana;


•Jennifer Susan Johns, 32 --Warrant for 2 counts for the sale of marijuana, sale of dangerous drugs, 2 counts of child abuse-domestic violence;


•John Stephen Kaczmarcyk, 31 --Warrant for conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs, sale of dangerous drugs;


•Michael William Larkins, 43 --Warrant for conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs, sale of dangerous drugs;


•Shannon Marie Moore, 24 --Warrant for sale of marijuana, sale of dangerous drugs;


•Douglas Edward Norman, 45 --Warrant for sale of dangerous drugs, conspiracy to sell dangerous drugs.

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