MARICOPA, AZ - Three Mexican men have been arrested after authorities seized more than 1,300 pounds of marijuana in a small town south of Phoenix.
It's not secret major Valley roads, like Interstate 10, are used to smuggle drugs.
But those carrying the dope are using alternate routes through smaller towns like Maricopa.
Maricopa police announced Friday that in three separate traffic stops the men were seen fleeing their vehicles and running into the desert before they were taken into custody.
A search of a vehicle and trailer uncovered 28 homemade-style backpacks that contained 56 bundles of marijuana. The bundles ranged in weight from 30 to 80 pounds a piece.
Police say the total weight of the marijuana was 1,334 pounds with an estimated street value of $750,000.
The men were booked into the Pinal County Detention Center on numerous felony drug charges including transportation of marijuana.
The weeklong operation was called "Eagle Talon."
ABC15 was the only media outlet that got an inside look at the city's secret operation on the war on drugs.
The multi-agency operation on one particular day got an early start at around 4 a.m.
Drug traffickers will do anything to go unnoticed, said officer Ricky Alvarado of the Maricopa Police.
Alvarado said his team has to try and outsmart them by using sophisticated tactics, which they wouldn't share, but helps them keep an eye on the changing trends drug smugglers use to get the drugs to their final destination.
"The cat and mouse game it's what it is," Alvarado said.
Investigators think smugglers are using Highways 347 and 238 to try and sneak in drugs to the rest of the Valley.
"They're going to know that if they try to run through Maricopa, or in the past when they figured that they could, it's not going to happen anymore," Alvarado said.
Maricopa, which has a population of about 43,000 people, is about 35 miles south of Phoenix.