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Copper theft ring broken up, 18 people facing charges

Copper theft ring broken up, 18 people facing charges

By Ina Ronquillo. CREATED Apr 30, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Numerous employees of ASARCO, LLC have been dismissed after a a mutli-million dollar copper theft ring was broken up.

Attorney General Tom Horne announced Tuesday that a case being investigated by the Arizona Department of Public Safety has led to the arrest of 18 defendants who could face up to 10 criminal counts including: illegally conducting an enterprise, conspiracy, money laundering, fraudulent schemes and artifices and theft involving nearly $10 million in stolen raw copper from ASARCO, LLC.

"This is a stunning example of theft on a massive scale," Horne said.  "Copper production is a signature component of our state's economy.  For these defendants to abuse their positions at a mining producer and allow this valuable resource to be stolen and re-sold on the black market is unconscionable."

DPS began investigating members of this criminal enterprise in September 2012 after a traffic stop of a semi-truck carrying nearly $180,000 worth of raw copper stolen from the ASARCO mine based in Hayden, AZ.

During their investigation, DPS determined several defendants employed at ASARCO, LLC in Hayden had used their positions to facilitate the theft of semi-truck loads of raw copper.

Defendants working at ASARCO's Hayden mine have been fired.

Ina Ronquillo

Ina Ronquillo

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Ina is a Southern Arizona native. She graduated from Nogales High School and then received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona with a double major in Media Arts and Communication.