Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s claims about a special state strike force’s “border” drug busts were crushed by a report in the Arizona Republic on Friday. The state’s largest newspaper revealed that the arrests didn’t happen anywhere near the border and appeared to actually have been conducted by state troopers patrolling the highways.
Before his trip to the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday, the Republican governor’s office issued a press release highlighting three arrests over the past year by his “Border Strike Force.” The unit fights “criminal activity along the border,” the statement noted.
In one arrest, a Tucson resident was stopped about 60 miles from the border; another arrest was in Phoenix, 363 miles north of the border. The third was in Littlefield, which is located the entire length of Arizona north of Mexico (570 miles from Nogales) and close to the state border with Utah.
Later Monday night, a trooper in the Tucson area made a traffic stop on a driver for traffic violation. During a vehicle search the trooper located about 15 lbs of meth & just over 6 oz of heroin. The driver, 42-year-old Dennis F. Kelly, of Tucson, was booked into Pima Co. Jail. pic.twitter.com/rZPCoqt0ou
— Dept. of Public Safety (@Arizona_DPS) January 19, 2021
The Border Strike force, which Ducey launched in 2015, was not credited with any of the three drug arrests he touted when they were initially announced, the Republic noted.
Ducey touts 3 drug busts by Border Strike Force. All happened in routine traffic stops, far from the border https://t.co/R2qNjF5t7x
— azcentral (@azcentral) March 19, 2021
The border unit often takes credit for drug arrests made by state troopers, according to the Republic, which cited a Department of Public Safety analysis of cases claimed by the Border Strike Force that showed that most of the unit’s activity through 2018 took place outside of Arizona’s four border counties. Arrests mainly involved “minuscule” amounts of drugs not typically indicative of trafficking operations, the newspaper reported.
Ducey’s office did not immediately respond to a request to comment from HuffPost.
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