Yuma County at center of election conspiracies linked to ‘2000 Mules’ documentary

Prominent Republicans have promoted the film.

By Ray Stern | Arizona Republic

A state search warrant served on an employee of a southern Arizona nonprofit organization has ignited a firestorm among election conspiracy believers who tie the action to a documentary about supposed anti-Trump voter fraud in 2020.

The makers of “2000 Mules,” who drew inspiration for the film from actual voter fraud cases in San Luis, are now using the new incident and other Yuma County cases to market the film and push an agenda of election fraud.

That’s turned the focus of election conspiracists nationwide from Maricopa County, the target of the state Senate’s heavily criticized “audit” that confirmed Trump’s loss there, to alleged fraud in Yuma County.

It might seem an unusual target for promoters of the conspiracy: Trump’s margin of victory in Yuma County in 2020 was significantly larger than 2016.

Marco “Tony” Reyes, the chair of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors, accuses the Arizona Attorney General’s Office of using the San Luis cases for political purposes.

To Reyes, a Democrat, the handling of the search warrant demonstrates that Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants to find scapegoats to pacify fellow Republicans who think Trump should have won reelection in 2020.

Brnovich’s office wouldn’t confirm or deny the investigation.

Reyes said two uniformed officers and two plainclothes investigators from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office served a search warrant on one of his employees at the nonprofit Comité de Bien Estar, where he is executive director, on May 17.

The search warrant, which Reyes shared photos of with The Arizona Republic, allowed officers to confiscate the phone and search the home of the employee, Gloria Torres, who also is a member of the San Luis City Council. 

The officers sought evidence that Torres and another woman had committed or were currently committing “ballot harvesting,” the warrant states, a term for submitting early ballots on behalf of others. Arizona outlawed that practice as a class 5 felony, with exceptions for family members, in 2016.

Torres did not return a phone message; her Yuma attorney, Braulio Sanchez, declined comment.

What prompted the investigation isn’t yet publicly known. But Torres, who’s served for 24 years on the Gadsden Elementary School District school board, is a political ally of Guillermina Fuentes, a former San Luis mayor and Gadsden school board member who’s facing prosecution for ballot harvesting.

And the plot gets thicker: The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating 16 cases of alleged election or voter fraud.

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