The cattle ranching industry in Arizona is being torn apart due to corruption and crime. It has split longtime cowboys against each other. Much of it comes down to cattle rustling that has been allowed to thrive, with close to 3,000 heads of cattle stolen from at least 32 owners over the past few years. There may also be money laundering connected to the Mafia and Mexican drug cartels.
The corruption became so bad the Arizona Department of Agriculture tasked an investigator to look into it a few years ago. He gave the results of his investigation, known as “Operation Cow Posse,” to Judicial Watch in 2019 as the scandal escalated. Cattle ranchers told him the scandal went all the way to the Arizona Legislature. They claimed that a powerful lobbyist helped launder millions of dollars from Pinnacle West, the parent company of electric company Arizona Public Service, through cattle growers’ bank accounts. People working at the Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association said they found files going back to 2006 showing the bank transfers.