A joint effort by Homeland Security agents and local law enforcement reportedly has busted up a drug and money laundering operation in southern Arizona that used United Parcel Services to transport sizable shipments of THC vape pens and marijuana to the eastern portion of the United States. UPS was then used to ship large amounts of cash back to Tucson area. THC is the high-inducing part of marijuana.
Homeland Security says two UPS drivers and two of the delivery company's supervisors were among 11 people arrested at the conclusion of an investigation that dates back to 2017. The UPS employees are alleged to have worked to keep company security from catching drug traffickers. Those employees have been identified as supervisors Mario Barcelo and Gary Love and drivers Michael Castro and Thomas Mendoza.
Several raids conducted by law enforcement targeted a home north of Tucson, among other locations. That home, which is reportedly owned by Raul Garcia Cordova, is where marijuana was found hidden under a hot tub. They also found approximately 50,000 counterfeit vaping pens loaded with THC in other locations. Cordova is believed to have financed the illegal operation.
Federal health officials note that nearly 2,300 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teens and young adults. Vitamin E acetate has been used as a thickener in illicit vaping products that contain THC. THC is the part of marijuana that gets you high.
UPS officials say the are cooperating with law enforcement and could not speak in detail about the investigation.