8 arrested after drug deal ripoff by suspects dressed as law enforcement officers

PHOENIX - Authorities say eight men, including a former cartel member, have been arrested in a drug deal in which the buyers ended up being kidnapped and beaten.

Edward Alvarez, 40, was the first to be arrested, the day after the March 24 incident, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

The last suspects taken into custody were two brothers from Tolleson who were arrested last Friday.

Five other suspects have been arrested and one suspect is still on the loose, according to authorities.

MCSO says Alvarez is a former Sinaloa Cartel member, according to the Department of Justice.

MCSO says that on March 24, 2013 three people met with Alvarez's group to buy drugs but instead were robbed of their cash. The victims, from Phoenix, El Mirage and Florida, had arranged to buy 180 pounds of marijuana from Alvarez and his associates.

After the victims were robbed they were zip-tied, physically assaulted and thrown into vehicle trunks by the suspects who were wearing police body armor, badges, ballistic helmet and a Phoenix police patch during the crime, according to MCSO.

When one of the victims managed to escape, the other two were released.

MCSO says that when Alvarez was arrested at his Litchfield Park home detectives found large amounts of cash hidden in a wall, several weapons and an array of police badges and other law enforcement identifiers.

MCSO says Alvarez celebrated the $60,000 to $95,000 haul by taking his "rip crew" out for pizza and drinks.

The Arizona victims are member of the West Valley gang known as Varrio Tolleson Chicanos.

Officials continue to search for another suspect believed to have been involved in the robbery and assault.

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