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Updated Apr 30, 2013 - 3:14 pm

18 indicted in massive Arizona copper theft

PHOENIX — Eighteen people were indicted in a multi-million dollar copper
theft ring at an Arizona mine that relied on inside help, state Attorney General
Tom Horne said Tuesday.

The case began after the September traffic stop of a truck hauling nearly
$180,000 of raw copper stolen from the Asarco mine in Hayden, his office said in
a press release.

Two Asarco LLC supervisors were among those indicted in the thefts that started
as early as 2006 and added up to $10 million, according to the Department of
Public Safety. The agency said the two face 10 felony counts each after playing
“critical roles in the thefts.”

Those defendants have been fired, according to the attorney general’s office. A
former contract security guard for the mine has also been indicted. Warrants
have been issued for their arrests, DPS said.

Other defendants are accused of driving the copper loads to California and
Arizona to recyclers who would buy it for a fraction of market value.

The attorney general said the recyclers would sell the copper to Chinese
importers and would blacken it so it could pass easily through customs as scrap
metal.

“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.”

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