An Arizona deputy who came under scrutiny after claiming he was wounded by drug smugglers in the desert has been suspended over comments he made to a Phoenix weekly newspaper.

Pinal County spokesman Tim Gaffney says Deputy Louie Puroll is on paid administrative leave pending an internal probe over the statements to the Phoenix New Times.

Puroll was quoted as saying that he had been approached by a Mexican drug cartel who wanted him to look the other way, and that he did not arrest the cartel members or report the alleged encounters.

Puroll was in the national spotlight this year when he claimed he was grazed by a bullet during a gunbattle with smugglers.

No smugglers or drugs were found, but an independent test on his clothes supported his story.