Stolen copper found headed to China; reward offered

By Mila Besich-Lira

Yesterday evening, KVOA, the NBC affiliate from Tucson, reported that the Arizona Department of Safety (DPS) had recovered $2,000,000.00 of copper that was stolen from the ASARCO mine in Hayden.The initial discovery of the stolen copper was found on Sept. 27 at a ranch near Tangerine Road in Marana .The report explained that at least 12 people could be indicted in this case and will be facing up to 40 counts.

The DPS investigation led them to Upland California and to a scrap metal dealer who has connections to a Chinese broker.The Arizona copper was put into sea containers and began its journey to China on the ship “Franesca.”

Jim Oien is the DPS officer who has been investigating this crime, in his interview with KVOA Oien said two weeks ago, the “Francesca” was loaded with three containers of stolen copper. It sailed to Hong Kong where Customs and Border Protection agents managed to get the ship returned with the containers.In total 500 830-pound anodes of copper were recovered in the ship.

“The Arizona copper that was mined in Arizona by Arizona workers ends up in the hands of the Chinese, and it’s stolen,” explained Oien .ASARCO originally suspected the copper thefts and began an internal investigation prior to alerting the authorities.The company has been working with law enforcement and there is a $50,000 reward for information that leads to thearrest and conviction.If you have information you are urged to call 88-CRIME or 9-1-1.

Copper Area News will release more details as they become available.

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