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A Pinal County Sheriff's deputy's routine patrol at the BHP Mine in San Manuel has led to the arrest of two men suspected of being responsible for a series of copper thefts at the site.

Victor Gutierrez, 46, and Mark Jimenez, 34, both of San Manuel, were taken into custody Nov. 24. The pair admitted to stealing copper for the past year. Law enforcement recovered about 500 pounds of copper wire worth more than $10,000.

BHP has reported several thefts of copper wire in the past year. PCSO includes a stop by the mine during patrol. A deputy came across a hand-dug tunnel while checking the site. He heard movement inside and called other deputies to assist.

An hour later, Gutierrez, wearing a headlamp, stuck his head out of the tunnel and was ordered out. Deputies went in to get Sanchez. Both men were charged with trafficking in stolen property, burglary, possession of burglary tools and aggravated criminal damage.

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