A jury in Pima County Superior Court has found four defendants accused of running a large-scale drug-smuggling operation guilty on all charges.
None of the four was in court to hear the verdict. Juan Bernardino Araiza-Mancilla, Diana Audelo Sotelo, Norberto Monreal Morgan and Daniel Monreal Morgan have fled and were tried in absentia.
They were found guilty of conspiracy to transport more than 2 pounds of marijuana, more than 9 grams of cocaine, illegally conducting an enterprise, wire fraud and money laundering after a two-week trial.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors Nanette Morrow and Joshua S. Moser with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office cast the defendants as the main players in a family-run drug business, which they said operated in ways similar to a legitimate business.
They documented how the organization smuggled marijuana and cocaine into the country from Mexico in truck tires, in secret compartments in cars and on the backs of illegal immigrants.
Araiza-Mancilla and Sotelo also were found guilty of use of wire of electronic communications in a drug transaction and transporting marijuana for sale.
Norberto Monreal Morgan was found guilty of money laundering and use of wire or electronic communications in a drug transaction, and Daniel Monreal Morgan was found guilty of transportation of cocaine for sale.
In 2010 and 2011, law enforcement seized numerous drug shipments they said were tracked to the defendants’ organization.
In one case, U.S. Border and Customs Enforcement officials seized nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana from a dump truck.
Sentencing will take place after they are captured. Warrants have been issued for their arrests.