APNewsBreak: Ariz. Sheriff Defends 5 Bodies Case

The Associated Press, 6/6/2012

Responding to critics who claim he was too quick to blame drug smugglers for the deaths of five people found in a burned-out SUV last weekend, an Arizona sheriff said Wednesday that he was merely sharing timely information about the case and never formally concluded that the deaths were the work of a cartel.

“There were no conclusions given … there was no pronouncement,” Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu told The Associated Press in his first comments since evidence surfaced suggesting the deaths may have been a murder-suicide, not cartel violence.


Eric Olson, associate director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center’s Mexico Institute in Washington, D.C., said that he can understand why sheriff’s investigators would consider a cartel as the perpetrator of Saturday’s crime, given that the bodies were found in a smuggling corridor in the desert at an odd time of day.

“But it’s incredibly important to reserve judgment until there’s more conclusive evidence, as always is the case,” he said. Such a gruesome, high-profile crime typically isn’t in the best interest of smugglers who want to stay in business and avoid arrest, he added.

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