Babeu defends cartel theory in 5 bodies case

Jun 6, 2012, 1:11 PM | Updated: 1:13 pm

TEMPE, Ariz. — Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu on Wednesday responded to
criticism that he was too quick to blame drug cartel violence for five bodies
found burned in the desert 35 miles south of Phoenix, saying that all
information at the time pointed to that scenario.

In his first comments since information was released contradicting that a
cartel was to blame, Babeu told The Associated Press that he never came to a
definitive conclusion after the bodies were found burned beyond recognition in
an SUV in his county on Saturday, but only said that it was a likely

“When you’re not being transparent and giving information, then everyone
stands on their high horse,” he said, adding that he released information as he
was learning it. “There were no conclusions given … There was no

Babeu made the comments in response to criticism that he used the case for
political gain to appear tough on immigration ahead of his November bid for
re-election and that he should have waited until his office had confirmation
before saying a cartel likely was responsible.

“Thanks to all our homicide detectives who are investigating this alarming
five-person murder and the torching of the vehicle [likely in an effort to
destroy evidence],” Babeu posted on his Facebook page on Monday. “All
information is pointing that this is connected to the violent drug cartel
smuggling in this high smuggling area.”

“The border is NOT more secure than ever Ms. Napolitano!” he added, in
reference to previous statements made by Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano.

In an interview with The AP later that day, Babeu said that “if this is in
fact connected to the cartels, and we absolutely prove it, this should be a
warning to our country” and “should send a shock wave that this could happen

On Tuesday, police in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe said that the vehicle
belonging to a missing family of five whose disappearance was being investigated
as a murder-suicide was the same vehicle found burning in the desert —
information that contradicted Babeu’s earlier statements.

Police found suspicious and concerning evidence inside the home of the
Butwin family and stopped looking for them or any suspects after the sheriff’s
office notified them Tuesday that their vehicle matched the one in the desert.

A group of a dozen or so protesters, led by an immigrant advocacy group,
protested outside the sheriff’s office on Wednesday, calling on voters to vote
for someone else come November.

“It is completely inappropriate for a law enforcement officer to compromise
the integrity of his position to further his political career,” said Carlos
Galindo, president of the recently formed Immigrant Advocacy Foundation.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Instagram Photos)...
Kevin Stone

Phoenix Mexican restaurant Ladera Taverna closing, will reopen as The Vig

Ladera Taverna y Cocina is saying adios this weekend after six years in Phoenix’s Sunnyslope neighborhood and will be converted into another location of The Vig.
13 hours ago
(File Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)...

MCAO fires prosecutor who falsely charged protest suspects

The longtime Maricopa County Attorney's Office prosecutor whose charges against people arrested at a 2020 protest came under intense scrutiny was officially fired this week.
13 hours ago
(Pixabay Photo)...

Police investigate over-the-counter laxative tampering incident at Scottsdale Walmart

Police said they are investigating a drug tampering incident involving over-the-counter laxatives sold at a Scottsdale Walmart.
13 hours ago
phoenix landscape skyline...
Associated Press

Maricopa County near top in white, Black, Hispanic population growth

Metro Phoenix's Maricopa County had among the biggest population growth in white, Black and Hispanic residents last year, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
13 hours ago
Myron Scott (Courtesy Photo)...

Missing Valley man found safe; Silver Alert canceled

A Phoenix man missing for weeks was found safe Wednesday, said authorities, who canceled a Silver Alert.
13 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Julie Gunnigle, Photo)...
Danny Shapiro

Gunnigle says Mitchell stance on abortion law creates more confusion in Maricopa County

Democratic candidate Julie Gunnigle believes acting Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell's stance on how to enforce abortion law in light of Roe v. Wade being overturned has only caused more confusion.
13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Babeu defends cartel theory in 5 bodies case