- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 14, 2013

Law enforcement authorities are continuing their investigation into the source of a package addressed to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America” that contained explosive materials. The package was discovered Thursday at a post office in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Chief Deputy Jerry Sheridan of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department said the package was mailed Thursday, a day after the sheriff’s office received a death threat against Sheriff Arpaio from a major drug cartel.

While Sheriff Arpaio and his office have received death threats in the past, Deputy Sheridan characterized the incident as “something that was brought to the height of seriousness.”

“That is a very serious threat. It was labeled to come here, to this building and to be opened by Sheriff Arpaio,” Deputy Sheridan said.

Deputies, along with FBI and U.S. Postal Service agents, are trying to track down “a person of interest” in connection with the package.

FBI officials in Phoenix confirmed Friday that they are involved in the investigation, but declined to elaborate. Several different Mexican drug cartels have threatened the sheriff’s life and placed a contract nearing $4 million for his execution.

Since August 2011, Sheriff Arpaio has been the target of nine death threats that law enforcement authorities deemed to be credible enough to be investigated. There has been at least one arrest in the past involving the threats.

“It is very disheartening what’s going on with the elected officials [around the nation], and I hope they catch those perpetrators,” Sheriff Arpaio told The Arizona Republic last week.

He was referring to the fatal shootings of Kaufmann County, Texas, District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, and the killing two months earlier of Mr. McLelland’s chief deputy, Mark Hasse.

“We have to take precautions,” Sheriff Arpaio said, adding that he is resolved to do his job and won’t be intimidated by people who want to force him out of office or kill him.

“My answer is it will not deter me from doing my job,” he said. “I’m not running scared. All I know is I’m going to keep being the sheriff. I want everybody to know that.”

Sheriff Arpaio, who is 80, won his sixth term in November. First elected in 1992, he was re-elected by wide margins in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 on some occasions with more than 65 percent of the vote.

Before becoming sheriff, he was a police officer in Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas, then joined the Drug Enforcement Administration, where he served as a top drug agent for 25 years. His last DEA assignment was as head of the agency’s Phoenix field office.

• Jerry Seper can be reached at jseper@washingtontimes.com.

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