2008 Warrant Snares Drug Runner At Nogales Border

border patrol
[Photo courtesy Border Patrol]

A man who was the subject of a nationwide warrant for more than 11 years is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshal Service as he waits to learn next month whether he will be sent back to prison for absconding while on federal probation.

Jorge Albert Ruiz has been ordered to appear July 29 at the U.S. District Court in Tucson for a hearing on several alleged probation violations related to his 2004 arrest for possession with the intent to distribute 174 pounds of marijuana for payment. The marijuana was found in a vehicle Ruiz was driving near Nogales.

Ruiz was sentenced in 2006 to 18 months in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) as part of a plea deal. He was released from custody in June 2007 to begin a two-year term of supervised release, commonly referred to as probation.

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But one year later, Ruiz became the subject of a nationwide arrest warrant after being accused of violating the conditions of his probation. The alleged violations included a new criminal charge for a DUI, moving without the permission of his U.S. Probation Officer, and failing to submit to court-mandated drug testing.

The warrant, issued in November 2008, would not be executed until March 10 of this year when Ruiz was taken into custody by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office at the Arizona/Mexico border in Nogales. The circumstances of his arrest have not been revealed.

At the July 29 hearing, the judge can send Ruiz back to federal prison in connection to the 2004 marijuana charge or reinstate him to a new term of probation. Until then, Ruiz must remain in USMS custody.

Resolution of Ruiz’s case has been delayed by the COVID-19 impacts on court scheduling. Public records show his probation violation hearing has been scheduled and cancelled four times.