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Top 20 Stories of 2013: #8 Huge copper theft bust in Arizona valued at $10 million

Every weekday in December, tED magazine is counting down the Top 20 Stories of 2013. Below, the #8 story of 2013, originally posted on May 6, 2013.

Eighteen people were indicted in a multi-million dollar copper theft ring at an Arizona mine that relied on inside help, state Attorney General Tom Horne said Tuesday.

The case began after the September traffic stop of a truck hauling nearly $180,000 of raw copper stolen from the Asarco mine in Hayden, which is in Pinal and Gila counties.  Tedmag.com was able to obtain a photo from the Arizona Daily Star of one of the trucks that was seized to give you an idea of how much copper was being stolen at one time.  All told, Arizona police were able to seize 9 trucks this week alone.



Two Asarco LLC supervisors were among those indicted in the thefts that started as early as 2006 and added up to $10 million, according to the Department of Public Safety. The agency said the two face 10 felony counts each after playing “critical roles in the thefts.”

Those defendants have been fired, according to the attorney general’s office. A former contract security guard for the mine has also been indicted. Warrants have been issued for their arrests, DPS said.

Other defendants are accused of driving the copper loads to California and Arizona to recyclers who would buy it for a fraction of market value. 

The attorney general said the recyclers would sell the copper to Chinese importers and would blacken it so it could pass easily through customs as scrap metal.  The allegedly stolen copper seen in the photo had not yet been blackened.

“This is a stunning example of theft on a massive scale,” Horne said. “Copper production is a signature component of our state’s economy. For these defendants to abuse their positions at a mining producer and allow this valuable resource to be stolen and re-sold on the black market is unconscionable.”

For more on this story, please visit azstarnet.com.

                                                                                             Copyright Associated Press 2013



Read the rest of the Top 20 list here:

#20 Crescent Electric Acquires Lake Electric Supply – March 5, 2013
#19 Reports: Copper Delivery Prices Soar – May 31, 2013
#18 Blog: WESCO Outlook – August 13, 2013
#17 Graybar achieves near-record profitability in 2012 – March 15, 2013
#16 Blog: Wesco’s Strategies For Growth – November 13, 2013
#15 Blog: Siemens shareholders approve Osram spin off – January 25, 2013
#14 Blog: Acquisitions fueled distributors’ growth in 2012 – March 4, 2013
#13 Southwire Introduces Electrician’s Tools – July 18, 2013
#12 Southwire Announces Organizational Changes – January 22, 2013
#11 2013 tED Magazine Best Of The Best Awards – August 7, 2013
#10 Blog: Amazon, Google Supply Update – August 30, 2013
#9  WSJ: Copper supply concerns – April 15, 2013
#8  Huge copper theft bust in Arizona valued at $10 million – May 6, 2013
#7  NAW speaker predicts strong economy, copper inflation for 2013 – January 30, 2013
#6  Leff Electric Acquired by AMP Electric  – October 2, 2013
#5  Southwire to roll out new cable pull technology  – March 12, 2013
#4  Super Bowl blackout traced to preventive equipment  – February 8, 2013
#3  tED magazine 2013 30 Under 35 List  – June 4, 2013
#2  Eaton executive outlines company’s future with Cooper  – January 8, 2013


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