Four UPS employees were arrested in the bust of a “sophisticated” drug- and cash-smuggling scheme that saw traffickers using the delivery service to ship counterfeit vape pens and other illicit goods from Mexico into the US for more than a decade, .The other UPS employees were identified as supervisor Gary Love, 40; and drivers Michael Castro, 34; and Thomas Mendoza, 47.According to new reports
The accused ringleader was a 20-year veteran of the shipping service at the company’s Tucson distribution center, who authorities allege used his position to hide the origin and destination of each illicit package, the Washington Post reported.
UPS employees — both drivers and supervisors — used “sophisticated methods and techniques” to avoid detection by company officials and law enforcement to “identify and intercept parcels containing contraband,” ICE spokeswoman Yasmeen Pitts-O’Keefe told the Tucson Sentinel.
A total of 11 people have been collared in the bust, which capped a two-year investigation into the shipment of large amounts of narcotics to destinations throughout the eastern United States and bulk cash sent back to the Tucson, Arizona, area. The case is being handled by the Arizona Attorney General’s office.
“He’s been able to provide this service to drug traffickers without being detected both internally and externally by law enforcement for years,” Kaderly said of Barcelo. “They’ve been doing it for so long that they were truly comfortable that they were never going to get caught.”
“Their sales pitch was that because of who Barcelo was at UPS, he could make sure your package will make it out without anyone finding it,” he added. “He had face time with traffickers.”
Officers seized nearly 50,000 counterfeit vape pens, cash and more than a dozen vehicles in the probe, including Corvette and a Range Rover, Pitts-O’Keefe said.
“The vape pens that were confiscated are exactly the kind that the CDC warned about,” Leavitt told the Sentinel. “They are the pens that are likely implicated in the death and illness related to THC cartridges across the country.”
UPS reps said in a statement that the company was cooperating with law enforcement officials but couldn’t divulge additional information, citing an ongoing investigation.