$125k In Cocaine, Marijuana Seized


Payson police intercepted a load of cocaine and marijuana with an estimated street value of more than $125,000, Friday, Feb. 22, at a local motel.

Officers seized more than two pounds of cocaine and an equal amount of marijuana from Daniel J. Arbuckle, 20, of El Mirage and James A. Romero, 22, of Phoenix.

"This shows how susceptible we are to the influx of drugs," Special Enforcement Officer John Huffman said. "All it takes is money and knowing the right person."

Huffman, a member of the police department's newly formed anti-drug team, said the arrests and seizure of the drugs were the result of joint efforts between his department, the Peoria Police Department, Gila County Narcotics Task Force and the Gila County Sheriff's Department.

"Had we not been made aware of this, there would have been over $100,000 worth of drugs on the streets of Payson," Huffman said.

Arbuckle and Romero were booked into the Gila County jail and charged with transportation of narcotics for sale, transportation of marijuana for sale and misconduct with a weapon.

The weapons charge was filed when one of the suspects tossed a 9mm handgun onto a motel room bed as members of the police department's heavily armed special response team (SRT) rushed the room.

"We commended them on their decision to get rid of the gun instead of confronting the SRT," Huffman said following an interview with Arbuckle and Romero. "It was a healthy decision on their part."

Huffman said the cocaine was in brick form and the marijuana was packaged into two one-pound bags. The drugs were in "plain view on a table in the motel room" said Huffman when the SRT entered and initially detained Arbuckle and Romero.

"The cocaine appeared to be pure and would have been cut and diluted for sale on the street in smaller quantities," Chief Gordon Gartner said.

Arbuckle and Romero each posted a $25,000 bond and were released from jail following an initial appearance in court.

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