Tucson One Target For Lawmen In "Operation Trifecta" - Tucson News Now

Tucson One Target For Lawmen In "Operation Trifecta"

Investigators from both sides of the border joined forces Thursday to take down an international drug ring.

Authorities call the takedown "Operation Trifecta." It encompassed three countries, nine states -- including Arizona -- and lasted nineteen months.

Attorney General John Ashcroft says local, state and federal law enforcement officers arrested 63 suspects in the U.S.

There were 10 arrests in southern Arizona. Authorities seized cocaine and marijuana along with six vehicles and $30,000 in cash. Lawmen also raided a local restaurant, El Mezon Del Cobre at 1st & Glenn.

"Big surprise actually," says Tim Maybin, a forklift operator working near the restaurant. "Seemed like a normal business operating over there. You would have never known."

The manager, Steve Silva, was recently arrested in New York and is believed to be a major player in the international drug ring.

"I knew, I knew right off what was happening," says Cynthia Dunbar, Manager of Tierra Stone Products nearby. She says she's overheard some pretty telling conversations inside the restaurant across the street.

"We'd go over there a few times and people would be openly talking about drug deals, and the phone would be ringing every couple minutes."

Authorities believe the drugs are coming here from Columbia before making their way into American cities like Tucson. There's no telling how long it's been going on, authorities say.

But with 240 total arrests, it's believed to be one of the biggest, most lucrative busts in years.

Attorney General John Ashcroft says the bust resulted in "the seizure of nearly 8 tons of cocaine, almost 25 thousand pounds of marijuana, 100 pounds of methamphetamine--and suspected drug proceeds totaling more than 8 million dollars."

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