(CBS/KPHO) PHOENIX - Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced Tuesday afternoon that one of his deputies and two of his detention officers were part of a drug and human trafficking operation.
The deputy and detention officers were arrested along with nine other people, according to CBS affiliate KPHO.
Arpaio said his deputy, Alfredo Navarrette, would drive illegal immigrants to California. When deputies arrested Navarrette, he had two undocumented immigrants there, Arpaio said.
Navarrette once served on Arpaio's anti-smuggling unit. Arpaio said he supplied details of crime suppression sweeps to leaders of the trafficking operation.
The two detention officers arrested were Sylvia Najera and Marcella Hernandez, who is 8 months pregnant, Arpaio said. The father of her baby is Lorenzo Arce-Torres, who was the ringleader of the Phoenix-based trafficking operation, according to Arpaio. Hernandez had $16,000 cash on her when she was arrested.
"No one is above the law, and apparently no one is beyond the reach of drug trafficking organizations in Mexico, so we must remain ever vigilant," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.
Deputies served 16 search warrants at various homes and businesses throughout the valley on Tuesday. They seized $200,000 in cash, 7 weapons, 10 pounds of heroin and 7 vehicles.
"We have enough problems on violence - not to have moles in my own organization to put my deputies in danger," Arpaio said. He said the investigation started a year ago after his office received a tip.