The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced today the unsealing of superseding indictment charging two former Pima County Deputy Sheriffs for a conspiracy to steal money that they believed was the proceeds of drug trafficking, and for the attempted acquisition and distribution of narcotics.

The superseding indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury in Tucson on May 11 and unsealed Thursday, alleges that defendant Francisco J. Jimenez, Jr., used his position as a Deputy Sheriff to commit criminal offenses. The indictment alleges that Jimenez was on duty, in uniform and drove his patrol car during the commission of the offenses detailed in the indictment. The Superseding Indictment further alleges that defendant Miguel Arvizu was a former Pima County Sheriff’s Deputy who represented to co-conspirators that he was still employed as a Deputy, and that he knew other Pima County Deputies who could help steal money from drug trafficking organizations, and acquire and distribute controlled substances. Arvizu allegedly arranged for Deputy Sheriff Jimenez to assist co-conspirators in stealing drugs and drug proceeds (which were in fact government monies). All five co-defendants have been arrested – the last taken into custody on Thursday – and are awaiting trial.

“This Deputy Sheriff — and his co-conspirator who is a former Deputy – dove head-first into the illegal drug trade and fomented an outrageous breach of the public’s trust,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “The public must be able to rely on their sworn officers of the law to protect and serve. That is why this office and our partners at the Federal Bureau of Investigation will aggressively investigate and prosecute public corruption wherever we find it.”

“The unsealing of today’s indictment is the culmination of a collective effort by the Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force and the United States Attorney’s Office,” said John Strong, FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge, Phoenix Division. “Whenever a law enforcement officer or former law enforcement officer abuses their authority for personal gain it erodes the public’s trust. Public Corruption is a top priority of the FBI and we remain vigilant in our pursuit of those who taint their badges.”

The Superseding Indictment alleges that Arvizu arranged for Jimenez to perform traffic stops on vehicles which purportedly contained money belonging to drug trafficking organizations, and to steal the money. On June 26, 2010, Jimenez performed a traffic stop on a vehicle which purportedly contained drug proceeds, searched the vehicle, and stole $4,000 from the glove compartment of the vehicle. Jimenez later met with Arvizu and gave him a portion of the stolen money. Again, on or about October 8, 2010, Jimenez pulled his patrol car behind a vehicle parked at the Tucson Mall which purportedly contained drug proceeds. He searched the vehicle and stole $4,000 from the glove compartment, again meeting Arvizu later and giving him a portion of stolen money.

The Superseding Indictment also alleges that on November 24, 2010, Arvizu arranged for Deputy Sheriff Jimenez to provide “security” while co-conspirators stole controlled substances and drug proceeds from a storage facility in Green Valley. On this date, Jimenez drove his patrol car near the storage facility while co-defendants, Frankie Cancannon and Emerick Rene Parra, broke into a storage unit that they believed contained drugs and drug proceeds.

The federal indictment charges Arvizu in all eight counts, which include conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, theft of government money and property, attempted distribution of three kilograms of cocaine, attempted possession with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana, and assaulting a person having lawful charge, custody, and control of money and other property of the United States, with the intent to rob, steal, and purloin said money and property of the United States.

Jimenez is charged in the conspiracy count, three counts of theft of government money, and with attempted possession with the intent to distribute more than 100 kilograms of marijuana.

The maximum penalty for theft of government money or property is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for assault with the intent to rob a person having custody of government money or property is 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for attempted distribution of three kilograms of cocaine and possession with the intent to distribute more than 100 Kilograms of marijuana is 40 years in prison and a fine of $5 million. An indictment is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Tucson. The prosecution is being handled by Eric Markovich and Gordon Davenport, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, District of Arizona, Tucson.