Three Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff's employees, including a veteran patrol deputy, have been arrested in a drug-trafficking sting. Investigators believe they helped a Mexican drug cartel smuggle heroin and people into Arizona.

Deputy Alfredo Navarrette, 37, served in a special unit designed to target human smugglers moving through Maricopa County. Sheriff's detention officers Sylvia Najera, 25, and Marcella Hernandez, 28, were also arrested. Sheriff Joe Arpaio called his deputies' alleged actions "despicable."

Hernandez is eight months pregnant with the child of Francisco "Lorenzo" Arce-Torres, the Sinaloa cartel member and leader of a Phoenix-based smuggling operation who was also arrested. The group mostly moved heroin.

Navarrette and Najera allegedly helped set up a shell corporation to launder nearly $50,000 in drug proceeds. Navarrette also allegedly operated a drop house for illegal-immigrant smuggling.

Source: The Arizona Republic