(CNN) -- A sheriff's deputy in central Arizona was shot Friday afternoon by a suspected drug trafficker, authorities said.
The Pinal County deputy, who was not immediately identified, contacted authorities after being wounded in the desert, saying he had been shot by an illegal immigrant with an AK-47, said Lt. Tammy Villar, a sheriff's spokeswoman.
The deputy radioed that he had encountered five men, some wielding long guns and handguns, and said they were carrying a large amount of marijuana.
At one point the deputy lost radio contact with authorities, leading to a search by foot and by air for him and the shooter, according to CNN affiliate KNXV. Video from the scene shows that the deputy was located while sitting in desert brush, surrounded by cactus. He was able to walk to a helicopter that airlifted him to a hospital.