Cartel lookouts give go-head from Arizona hilltops

AZBD Note: This isn’t just something that happens in Pinal county. There are spotters all over the desert in the heavily trafficked areas.


TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Men paid to be lookouts for Mexican drug cartels used sophisticated technology to spot law enforcement and alert smugglers in the Arizona desert, a trafficking tactic under investigation by local and federal authorities for months.

The arrests of the group of men mark what Pinal County authorities say is an ongoing problem in the county 70 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Sheriff’s officials say the county is ripe with cartel activity that travels north from two Arizona counties sitting directly on the border.

The men used cellphones, encrypted radios, binoculars and other technologies and said they spent more than a week at a time in the desert working as lookouts, or so-called scouts. They had guns, lived on hilltops, mountains and caves and alerted criminals smuggling people and drugs when authorities were nearby.