Arrests made in BHP copper theft | News
Two men were arrested by Pinal County Sheriff's Deputies last weekend in connection to copper theft from the BHP Mine in San Manuel.
A PCSO deputy, on duty on November 24, stopped by the mine to conduct a security check, according to Sheriff's Office officials. The mine had been plagued by copper theft in the past, according to PCSO. The deputy stopped by a large, hand dug tunnel on the mine property, a location the deputy thought was where the suspects were gaining access.
According to the PCSO deputy while he was standing at the top of the tunnel he heard the sound of movement and called for additional backup.
The first suspect, identified as Victor Gutierrez, stuck his head outside the tunnel at about 8:34 p.m. and was ordered by deputies to exit the tunnel. He complied and stepped from the tunnel, according to the deputies Gutierrez denied there was anyone else in the tunnel.
At 8:50 p.m. they climbed into the tunnel and located a second suspect, identified as Mark Jimenez, according to the deputies. He too was ordered out of the tunnel. Both were taken into custody.
Deputies discovered during this arrest that the suspects had damaged and removed over $10,000 worth of copper, during this one trip. The deputies also recovered several 30 foot long sections of wire, which weighed nearly 500 pounds.
Both suspects admitted to PCSO that they had been stealing large sections of copper from the mine during the last year, and that to do so they would burn off or strip the plastic casing in order to sell the copper in Tucson.
BHP officials stated it cost them several hundred thousand dollars to replace and repair the stolen copper wire, and that was just during the last year alone.
Gutierrez and Jimenez were both booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center on the following charges: Trafficking in Stolen Property, Burglary, Aggravated Criminal Damage and Possession of Burglary Tools. Gutierrez is being held on a $20,000 bond, while Jimenez is being held on a $2,500 bond.
Sheriff Paul Babeu stated in a recent news release, "Many of the suspects who steal copper wire are doing it to support their illegal drugs habits. Both Victor and Mark have a past history of arrests for possession and use of illegal drugs. I am sure the money made from these crimes was used to support their drug habits. Deputies and detectives did a great job working together to put these two suspects behind bars."
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