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Eighteen people charged with stealing copper from mine

Eighteen people have been indicted for allegedly stealing ten million dollars worth of raw copper from an Arizona mine. Two supervisors from the ASARCO mine were among the suspects. The thefts from the ASARCO mine near Hayden started as early as 2006, according to investigators. Raw copper was smuggled out of the mine and was then sold to recyclers in Arizona and California for a fraction of the metal’s market value. The recylers in turn sold it to Chinese importers.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said a traffic stop in September led to the discovery of the thefts.

 "(There was) a semi-truck carrying $180,000 worth of raw copper ingots that had been stolen, and the investigation led to 18 people who now face 10 criminal charges," Horne said.

Horne said the copper was blackened so it looked like scrap metal and could pass through customs inspections. He says the two mine employees have been fired.