Pinal County sheriff’s deputies seized more than 500 pounds of marijuana early Friday morning following two car chases within 90 minutes.
At about 2 a.m., a Pinal deputy attempted to stop a 2000 Cadillac Escalade after he saw it speeding. The deputy initiated a traffic stop along Interstate 8 near milepost 160 south of Casa Grande. The SUV began to pull over, then accelerated and a chase ensued, Tim Gaffney, spokesman for the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, said in a news release.
A short time later, the SUV stopped along the shoulder of the interstate. Both the driver and the front seat passenger ran from the vehicle and got away.
As the pursuing deputy and another on the scene approached the vehicle, they saw two Hispanic men inside, along with bundles of marijuana. They ordered the men, at gunpoint, to get out of the SUV. The suspect later identified as Arturo Tellez, 28, of Mexico, got out of the vehicle and fled on foot into the desert. One of the deputies caught him a short distance later, but “Tellez resisted arrest and struggled to get free even after he was taken to the ground,” Gaffney said.
After the second deputy took the other suspect, Jesus Arguellas-Esparza, 26, of Mexico, into custody, he aided the first deputy in his fight with Tellez. The suspect eventually was subdued with a Taser, he said.
Arguellas-Esparza and Tellez were booked into the Pinal County jail for possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of marijuana for the 153 pounds of pot found in the SUV. Tellez also was charged with resisting arrest.
The second chase began just before 3:30 a.m., when a deputy attempted to stop 2003 Audi passenger car in the area of Highway 84 and Highway 347 southwest of Casa Grande for a traffic violation, Gaffney said.
The driver refused to pull over. Instead the car went off-road, driving into the desert.
“The deputy lost sight of the vehicle because of the darkness and dust in the air,” Gaffney said. “The vehicle was located a short time later abandoned in the desert.”
Pinal deputies and officers from the Maricopa Police Department found seven bundles of marijuana along the side of the roadways where the car had traveled. Inside of the car, a deputy located additional bundles of marijuana. All total, 350 pounds of marijuana was seized.
The driver got away.