Politics wasn't behind this drug bust but politics has been behind many other arrests made by Sheriff Joe Arpaio thugs!


Politics probably not behind drug bust of Senate candidate's son

Feb. 24, 2006 12:00 AM

Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the arrest of U.S. Senate candidate Jim Pederson's son was not politically motivated. And there's no reason to believe that's not the case.

Even though the initial call alleging Pederson's son was involved with drugs came to one of Arpaio's top people. And that it took at least five deputies to bring down a less-than-cunning individual who had some marijuana and painkillers.

According to court papers filed to get a search warrant, James Pederson, 24, melted before a narcotics deputy who questioned him at his stopped car. Pederson admitted possessing illegal prescription drugs, the report says, and led detectives into his house where he showed them the rest of his stash.

What the paperwork doesn't detail is how the tip came into the Sheriff's Office.

In a phone interview Thursday, Arpaio said the full report that will be released next week would answer that question. For now, he would only say the call came to someone high up in his organization. "This was a mother concerned about her son using drugs associated with the son of Jim Pederson and asked for our help," Arpaio said. "This was an unusual one."

Playing politics in past

The Maricopa County Sheriff has previously shown that he is not above using his deputies to play politics.

In the 2000 election, his office cited an actor for impersonating an officer. The actor, playing a character named Joe Arizona, supported a gambling initiative. Arpaio supported a competing initiative. The actor was at a downtown Phoenix restaurant on Halloween wearing a highway patrol officer's shirt and pink underwear. The charges were dropped.

During his own re-election, Arpaio sent deputies from his "threats" squad to interview the mother of Dan Saban, his opponent in the primary. The claim, without merit and dismissed by another law enforcement agency, that Saban raped his mother when he was a teenager was quickly given to a television station. Saban, now police chief in Buckeye, has filed a defamation suit against Arpaio and the station.

No apparent link to Kyl

Arpaio does not appear closely linked to U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, the man Jim Pederson is trying to unseat. Their only apparent link is they are both Republicans. Kyl has issued a statement of sympathy to the Pederson family. So did Arpaio. "My heart goes out to the family," he said, "because this increasing drug traffic, drug use, is not only destroying our young people, (it's) destroying families, too."

The bust happened six weeks after the initial tip that Pederson possessed and sold Oxycontin, according to the search warrant request. A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office squad, known as the East Side Street Team, set up in west Phoenix, watching the house near 15th Avenue and Glendale, the affidavit says.

Arpaio said there is no such thing as the East Side Street Team. He said it must have been a typo.

When Pederson drove away from his house, narcotics detectives got a deputy to follow him. That deputy pulled Pederson over for making a lane change without signaling and asked if he could search Pederson's car. According to the warrant, Pederson said OK.

The deputy found a hollowed-out pen with drug residue on it. According to the affidavit, Pederson told an arriving narcotics detective the residue was Oxycontin and offered to turn over the remaining pills at his house. Pederson, the paperwork says, opened a drawer in his bedroom and gave deputies two more of the painkiller tablets, as well as plastic bottles of Soma and Tylex, both prescription medicines.

'Efficient' deputies

A search of Pederson's house found a few other pills on floors and in drawers, as well as a live marijuana plant growing in the bedroom closet. Pederson has not been accused of selling drugs.

Arpaio did not say how long deputies watched Pederson's house for this small-time bust. But did say detectives were "efficient."

Arpaio said his office knew from the start it was investigating the son of a political candidate, but "I don't like people saying this is because of politics." "I go after everybody."

True. Maybe it's best to give Arpaio the benefit of the doubt and assume this wasn't about politics but about his typical motivation: grabbing publicity.

Reach Ruelas at (602) 444-8473 or richard.ruelas@arizonarepublic.com.

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