Arizona is ground zero for drugs according to Tempe Police Commander, Kim Hale. An initial local PD investigation into Phoenix-area drug trafficking led to the large-scale initiative referred to as Operation Terminus.
After finding out about these local drug sales, DEA Special Agents joined forces with the Tempe Police Department and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office in this 30-month undercover investigation that brought down an extensive ring of drug traffickers with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel.
This case began to unravel with the 2012 arrest of a man as part of a different criminal investigation. The combination of the local efforts of the Tempe Police Department and the DEA’s expertise at investigating cartels led these law enforcement agencies to target the entire criminal enterprise.
While the cartels initially imported these drugs into the Phoenix area, their extensive distribution ring spread them all the way to Los Angeles and Indianapolis. The success of Operation Terminus resulted in extensive quantities of drugs being taken off the streets. Agents seized 50 kilograms of cocaine, 485 pounds of meth, 3.4 pounds of heroin, $7.5 million dollars, and 37 firearms. Seventy-seven people were indicted as a result of this operation.
This feat would not have been possible without the cooperation of these disparate law enforcement agencies. They worked under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force.
Part of the reason for the high-level trafficking of such dangerous drugs is that the cartels are adapting to the times. They previously made much of their money with marijuana sales. However, as medical marijuana laws make it easier to buy this drug, the cartels are losing customers. Thus, they are switching to more profitable and dangerous drugs such as meth, cocaine, and heroin.