Indictment outlines Guerena drug case
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - More than a year after the SWAT raid that killed former Tucson Marine Jose Guerena, an indictment details the drug ring deputies say he was involved in.
The indictment outlines a booming family business---an illegal business wholesaling marijuana. Investigators describe a business big enough to be a story in itself, but its profile is even higher because of how one of the family met his end.
When the Pima County SWAT team tried to serve a search warrant on Jose Guerena's house, he met them with an assault rifle. SWAT officers shot him to death and fired 70 rounds in the process.
When they did search the house they reported finding weapons, body armor and 13 cell phones---one of which held coded messages.
Now an indictment against a long list of Guerena family members offers specific details of how Jose Guerena and other family members were deeply involved in a drug operation that moved millions of dollars and laundered the money's connection to drugs by buying and selling cars and trucks.
Capt. Christopher Nanos leads the Pima Sheriff's department Criminal Investigations Division. He says, "We know he was involved in narcotic trafficking as was that entire organization."
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: "But not just on the periphery, really deeply involved?"
Capt. Nanos: "We believe he was as actively involved as was his other family members."
Deputies arrested three family members in May. Now they're urging the public to watch out for Alejandro and Gerardo Guerena. They think both men have been in Mexico but may be in the U-S now.
But the Guerena case includes more than a criminal indictment. Jose Guerena's widow Vanessa, is suing in civil court claiming her husband died needlessly because of bad planning and procedure by the SWAT team.
Her attorney, Christopher Scileppi says Jose Guerena was not involved with drugs and is being smeared through the indictment.
Craig Smith asked: "When the time comes to push this forward in civil court would the allegations in this indictment even be admissible?
Scileppi: "Well, there's a lot of course a lot of this that will not be relevant in that case. The state is trying to and the County Attorney's office, the Sheriff's office, they're trying to paint the picture, they're trying to lump him together to justify what they did that day. And it will not hold up."
The Sheriff's chief investigator says the civil suit has no bearing on what's in the indictment.
He points out that indictment is produced by the grand jury, not the sheriff's department and it can't indict a dead man.
Jose Guerena is the best known name but claims about his actions are listed in a way to describe how they fit in an overall operation