CREATED Dec. 6, 2013
FLORENCE, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Three people arrested for drug and human smuggling Thursday were found to be in possession of a police scanner detecting Pinal County Sheriff's Office frequencies.
Police identified the the driver of the vehicle as 51-year-old Willa Thomas and the front seat passenger as 37-year-old Kevin Lewis; both Arizona natives.
The backseat passenger was Claudio Perez Felix, 35, of Sinaloa, Mexico.
When the deputy stopped and approached their 2002 Hyundai for a traffic violation, he immediately noticed the smell of marijuana.
He then spotted two large bundles of the drug wrapped in burlap on the backseat.
Once the deputy reportedly asked the individuals to step out of the vehicle is when he discovered that Lewis was in possession of a police scanner and a 9 mm semi-auto handgun.
"Drug and human smuggling often go hand in hand," said Sheriff Paul Babeu. "The public needs to hear these stories to better understand how these criminals operate and often evade detection from our deputies."
According to police, Thomas said she was in need for money and agreed to help her grandson Lewis smuggle 54.5 pounds of marijuana and the undocumented, Perez Felix for $500.
The marijuana that was confiscated apparently totaled to $41,500 in street value.
Lewis and Perez-Felix were booked into the Pinal County Jail for Possession of Marijuana for Sale, Transportation of Marijuana and Possession of Marijuana.
Perez-Felix also has an immigration hold and a hold on an outstanding warrant for a prior DUI arrest.
Willa Thomas was released from custody for medical issues.
Charges will be filed to the Pinal County Attorney's Office requesting she be prosecuted for the same offenses.