Huge marijuana grow found near Sedona
Local, state and federal police officers raided a clandestine marijuana "grow" in the Coconino Forest at a remote area in the bottom of Woods Canyon near Sedona.
Two outdoor enthusiasts were hiking July 7 in the rugged area. The canyon is located south of Schnebly Hill Road and west of Interstate 17. The hikers discovered what they believed to be a large marijuana farm and reported their suspicions to the Northern Arizona Street Crimes Task Force (Metro). Using spotting scopes and other equipment, the task force confirmed the hikers' tip. Metro agents observed the area from the top of the rim but did not enter the canyon fearing they may alert suspects tending to the plants in the area.
A special team made up of the Coconino SO, Flagstaff Police, Forest Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration positioned themselves in strategic locations to watch the suspected marijuana field. Detectives observed as many as five men who appeared to be caring for the plants.
This past Wednesday, task force members descended the canyon and secured the area. Because of the thick vegetation, the vast area involved and the steep terrain, the five suspects who were believed to be in the area eluded apprehension. Officers secured 4,200 marijuana plants and numerous items that are associated with an illegal cultivation operation. The plants were grown in an area the size of two football fields and were about three feet tall.
"This enforcement effort is the latest example of how local, state and federal law enforcement cut through jurisdictional boundaries and work together in an effort to ensure public safety in our cities, counties, and national forests," said Coconino County Sheriff Bill Pribil. "It is just one example of a continuing partnership to aggressively enforce laws pertaining to the manufacture, cultivation, sale and use of illegal drugs and narcotics."
"This eradication operation means that thousands of pounds of marijuana never made it into our neighborhoods, and millions of dirty dollars never made it into the drug trade," said DEA Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth W. Kempshall. "DEA and our law enforcement partners remain committed to protect our natural resources from the contamination and damage caused by drug traffickers' illicit use of our public lands."
Traffic stop results in Internet safety lesson for parents
A Yavapai Sheriff's deputy stopped a vehicle for speeding in a Lake Montezuma neighborhood Thursday night. The deputy identified the driver as a 19-year-old man from Cottonwood with 15- and 16-year-old Lake Montezuma girls as passengers.
The deputy learned the teenage girls became acquainted with the boy from a "My Space" page and had arranged to meet him in person. The driver was in the process of dropping off one of the girls when the deputy stopped his car.
Neither set of parents was aware of the plans or had knowledge of their respective daughters' current location.
It is another reminder that parents should closely monitor their children's Internet activity and always know their whereabouts and with whom they associate.
Additional Internet safety suggestions are available from the volunteer cyber safety group "Wiredsafety" (www.wiredsafety.org).
The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, in cooperation with the Arizona Attorney General's Office, offers Internet Safety Programs for schools, churches and community groups. Call 928-777-7441 for additional information.
Saddlebag theft leads to jail
Cottonwood Police officers were dispatched to a reported vehicle theft in progress at the Chaparral Bar on South Main Street. After unsuccessfully attempting to find the vehicle, officers returned to the Chaparral and spoke with the victim, John Lukasik, who said he was leaving Strombolli's when he saw an individual going through his motorcycle saddlebag parked in front of the Chaparral.
Lukasik confronted the individual, Jeremiah Christian Mason, who claimed that the owner told him to get some money out of the saddlebag. Just then, a second man, Joseph Michael Allen, stepped between Mason and Lukasik, pulled Mason away, and the two drove off.
A witness with Lukasik gave officers a license plate number that returned to a 1995-Infinity. When officers checked the address where the bike was registered, a woman at the home said the owner no longer lived there but she was a granddaughter and gave a telephone number.
The registered owner told the officer she was staying at her mother-in-law's house for the night but she thought her husband, Joseph Allen drove to their home in Cornville. At that time, a vehicle pulled into the driveway; Allen got out of the driver's seat and walked to the house. He said that he just came from the Chaparral Bar but was not driving.
He explained that Jeremiah Christian Mason was going through a saddlebag of a motorcycle when the owner of the motorcycle came out and confronted Mason. He was concerned Mason was going to be beat up so he pulled him away and they left in his vehicle.
Mason then stepped from the vehicle and the officer said it appeared that he was going to attempt to flee. The officer ordered him to stop and tell him what happened at the Chaparral earlier. He became argumentative and began using profanity. Mason was placed in handcuffs and advised he was under arrest for burglary.
Allen's eyes were bloodshot and watery and he had a strong odor of alcohol and a moderate sway.
A computer check showed his Allen's drivers license was revoked from a prior DUI and he was arrested for three counts of aggravated driving under the influence. His breath alcohol content tested at .185 percent. Mason and Allen they were transported to the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde.
Woman assaulted because of rumor
Early Saturday morning, 20-year-old Erin Epperson was sleeping on her couch in her South 16th Street home when loud knocking awakened her. She opened the door for Stacey Martinez, a woman she knew from a previous job.
According to police reports, Amanda Blansett then stepped in from the side of the door and punched Erin in the face. Martinez held Epperson to the bed with her face down repeatedly asking her about a rumor she had heard.
Epperson finally broke free and got off the bed but Blansett blocked her exit from the room when she wanted to call police.
Blansett and Martinez eventually left and Epperson used her cell phone and called police.
Epperson told police she thought a Ramon Anguiano (called: "Mony") had driven the pair and he drives a silver Chevrolet Cobalt.
A second officer spotted the vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed leaving the area and stopped the car near SR 89a and S. 6th St. Anguiano was driving and Blansett was the passenger.
The officer drove the victim past the area where the second officer had the subjects sitting on the curb in a lighted area and Epperson immediately identified them as the perpetrators. The two women were arrested.
Ramon Anguiano, 24, was transported to the jail and booked on the charges of facilitation of aggravated assault facilitation of second-degree burglary and facilitation of kidnapping.
Amanda Blansett, 31, was booked on the charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary second degree and possession of marijuana.
On Saturday morning, Stacey Martinez, 33, was arrested for aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary second degree, and interfering with judicial proceedings.