Drug cartels are in our backyard, and we're not talking about Mexico. Tempe police just wrapped up a six-month-long investigation where they took cash, drugs and even a plane. They said it's all tied to the Sinaloa cartel.
Three homes were raided in the Valley - one in Phoenix, a stash house and two in Tempe, which were basically the Sinaloa cartel's office headquarters for their operations here.
"It's really dangerous because we don't really imagine things happening like that," said Cristina Estrada, who lives one of the neighborhoods that were raided.
The two homes in Tempe were just a few blocks from a police station and ASU. And officers found lots of drugs.
"Rooms full of them, and they also had an operation there where they were packaging and that took up a lot of space," said Tempe police lieutenant Noah Johnson.
After a six-month-long investigation, Tempe police and other agencies say the Sinaloa cartel is now down 20 people, 14 guns, $2.4 million, three tons of pot, 30 pounds of meth and a plane. So how can an operation like this go unnoticed in a Tempe suburb?
"They try to blend into the community just as anybody would," Johnson said.
Despite U.S. Department of Justice information released a little more than a year ago saying cartels have distinctive calling cards, like bumper stickers or logos on their clothes, narcotics experts said these days they're trying to stay under the radar.
"People that are involved in organized criminal activity don't want to draw attention to themselves," said former Mesa cop Bill Richardson.
He said instead, look for cars coming in and out and activity around the clock, including late into the night - because they could be setting up shop where you live.
"If their family is with them they're probably going to pick a neighborhood just like anybody else, they're going to want to have good schools, they're going to have access to shopping," Richardson said.
Luckily, no children were in any of the stash houses. The 20 people arrested now face charges for trafficking dangerous drugs.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 2:29 PM EDT2013-05-22 18:29:48 GMT
? CBS 5
Follow @JadiannCBS5, @reporterjmiguel and @elizabetherwin for updates from Jodi Arias murder trial in the death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. [Text BREAKING to 23765 to get breaking news alertsMore >
Get live updates from CBS 5 News reporters as the jury deliberates the fate of Jodi Arias, who was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 1:32 PM EDT2013-05-22 17:32:40 GMT
Only on five tonight... A former assistant police chief in glendale is breaking his silence about his demotion - suspension and the family crisis at the center of it all. Former assistant chief gregMore >
Former Glendale assistant police chief Greg Dominguez is breaking his silence about his demotion, suspension and the family crisis at the center of it all.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 1:36 PM EDT2013-05-22 17:36:14 GMT
(Source: CBS 5 News)
Be the first to find out when the jury reaches a verdict in the Jodi Arias murder trial. She's accused of killing her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, at his Mesa home in 2008. The jury is deliberatingMore >
Be the first to find out when the jury reaches a verdict in the sentencing phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:21 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:21:12 GMT
(RNN) - British officials are saying one man is dead and two others were injured in a possible terrorist attack in London on Wednesday.According to BBC News, eyewitnesses said man was attacked in a streetMore >
One man is dead after two men attacked him in broad daylight with knives and meat cleavers. More >
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:43 PM EDT2013-05-22 01:43:10 GMT
Saturday night's Powerball drawing
Two $1 million Powerball second-prize winning tickets were sold in Arizona from Saturday night's record-breaking jackpot. The winning tickets, which matched five out of five numbers drawn, not includingMore >
A Phoenix woman has come forward to collect her $1 million Powerball prize and says she's planning to go on a family vacation and invest the rest of her winnings.More >
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:56 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:56:41 GMT
Jodi Arias (Source: CBS 5 News)
It is now in the hands of the 12 jurors to decide if Jodi Arias will live her life behind bars or if she'll be executed. The defense and prosecution gave their closing statement Tuesday afternoon andMore >
The jury has gone home for the day without a verdict on life or death for convicted murderer Jodi Arias.More >