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Agents bust up Tucson ring that smuggled drugs in fake Coke machine

(U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Photo)

PHOENIX — A Tucson-based drug smuggling ring that allegedly used a fake Coke machine to transport narcotics has been busted up.

In a press release, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said nine people were arrested on July 10 in connection with the ring.

“The accused ran a large interstate drug trafficking organization that flooded our streets with drugs,” Scott Brown, the special agent in charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division in Phoenix, said in the release.

The ring had been under investigation for at least three years. Over that time, agents have seized more than $145,000 in cash, 85 pounds of cocaine, 17 vehicles and four bank accounts.

Four properties worth more than $2.5 million were also seized.

The alleged ringleader, 44-year-old Rene Marcos Vera, was one of the nine arrested.

Five others — 58-year-old Rosella Maria DeLeon, 50-year-old Cesar Diaz German, 38-year-old Richard Andrew Leon, 35-year-old Raquel Ann Stansberry and 22-year-old Rene Marcos Vera II — were arrested in Arizona.

Tawney Waner, 31, and Joseph Sorce, 41, were both arrested in Chicago.

All of the suspects will face a “myriad of charges including, money laundering; possessing, manufacturing, and selling illegal drugs; and identification theft,” the press release said.

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