Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from Dec. 17-19
PHOENIX — An officer with the Chandler Police Department died of COVID-19 complications on Friday night, the first phase of the Monterey Park expansion is now open, and a Mexican man was arrested for attempting to smuggle more than 3,000 pounds of methamphetamine into Arizona.
Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.
Jeremy Wilkins, an officer with the Chandler Police Department, died of COVID-19 complications on Friday night, the Chandler Police Department posted on social media.
Wilkins was a 23-year police veteran who also worked in the Prescott Valley Police Department.
His death is considered a line of duty death, according to the Prescott Valley PD’s Facebook.
He was transferred from the hospital to a mortuary on Saturday morning.
Mesa city officials and local children recently celebrated the completion of the first phase of the Monterey Park expansion now open to the community.
The playground — funded through the voter-approved 2018 Parks Bond — located on Guadalupe and Power roads provides improved access and includes a range of ADA-compliant features.
Families will find climbing ropes, two transfer stations, a roller slide and tic-tac-toe at the new site, according to a press release.
When completed, the park is expected to include youth diamond fields, four pickleball courts and a mini library.
Border officers arrested a Mexican man for attempting to smuggle more than 3,000 pounds of methamphetamine into Arizona, authorities said.
Officers at the Mariposa Commercial Facility in Nogales on Wednesday said after a tractor trailer drover through, they proceeded with further inspection of the vehicle driven by a 21-year-old Mexican native, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations press release.
A narcotics canine, through a non-intrusive detection, made a positive alert which led to the discovery of more than 470 packages of methamphetamine hidden within the shipment of commercial auto parts, authorities said.
The drugs were determined to have weighed approximately 3,280 pounds, according to the release.
The driver was arrested and turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Nine Arizonans were accused of fraudulently obtaining about $23 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans over the period of one year, authorities said.
The accused have already faced federal grand jury indictments and are alleged to have used the funds to purchase vehicles, properties and other expensive items, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.
Indictments allege those involved in the scheme submitted or helped submit PPP loan applications for 18 companies that sought loans between $100,000 to $2.2 million for each company, according to court documents.
A Mesa couple, 40-year-old Jason Coleman and 38-year-old Kimberly Coleman, were accused of submitting about two dozen false and fraudulent PPP loan applications in an attempt to get more than $30 million in funds.
The water is now flowing to fill a long-awaited new lake at a Glendale park ahead of next month’s grand opening.
Mayor Jerry Weiers and members of the City Council opened the faucet at Heroes Regional Park earlier this week.
Councilwoman Joyce Clark spent more than 20 years bringing the lake to her district.
“It’s finally happening,” she said after helping turn the valve. “It’s going to take a week-and-a-half to fill it up, and I live across the street and I’ll be checking it every day to make sure the water’s still flowing.”
A grand opening ceremony for the 4-acre, 13-foot-deep lake at 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road is scheduled for Jan. 13. Construction started in May.