During the past year, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has investigated several reported thefts of copper wire from the BHP Mine located at 200 South Veterans Memorial Blvd., San Manuel.
On Saturday, November 24th, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. a Pinal County Sheriff’s Deputy while working his normal patrol duties stopped by the closed mine to conduct a security check of the property. The deputy first went to a large hand dug tunnel on the property which he felt the suspects who were stealing the copper in the past were using to gain access to the abandoned mine shaft where the copper was being taken from.
As the deputy stood at the top of the tunnel, he could hear the sound of movement inside of the tunnel and called for additional deputies to respond.
At 8:34 p.m. Victor Gutierrez (age 46 of San Manuel
) stuck his head out of the top of the tunnel. Deputies ordered him out of the tunnel at gunpoint. Victor complied and was taken into custody. At the time of his arrest, Victor was wearing a headlamp on his head so he could see inside of the tunnel. Victor denied anybody else was in the tunnel.
At 8:50 p.m. deputies climbed into the tunnel and located Mark Jimenez (age 34 of San Manuel
). Mark was also wearing a headlamp on his head so he could see inside of the tunnel. Mark was ordered out of the tunnel and was also taken into custody.
Deputies discovered during this case the suspects had damaged and removed over $10,000 worth of copper. Deputies and Property Crime Detectives were able to recover several 30 foot long sections of copper wire which weighed approximately 500 pounds. Both suspects made admissions to stealing large quantities of copper during the past year. The suspects said they would steal the copper and either burn off or strip the plastic coating on the wire so they could sell it in Tucson.
BHP Mine has reported that it has cost them several hundred thousand dollars to replace and repair the stolen copper during just the past year alone.
Victor Gutierrez and Mark Jimenez were both booked into the Pinal County Adult Detention Center for Trafficking in Stolen Property, Burglary, Aggravated Criminal Damage and Possession of Burglary Tools. Victor is being held on a $20,000 bond and Mark is being held on a $2,500 bond.
Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “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