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Editor's note: This is one of a group of individual accounts of racial profiling by Sheriff Joe Arpaio's forces. The next personal story will appear on our Web site Wednesday night, November 18.


Unlike his friends, Sergio Martinez-Villaman wasn't afraid during June's immigration sweep in Mesa. The seasonal worker had a visa.

Then came the encounter with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

A detective detained him on June 27, alleging he didn't use his turn signal. The deputy then arrested him for driving without a license.

He was put in a van, along with other suspected illegal immigrants, and left inside to swelter (there was no air conditioning) all day.

He was taken to the Fourth Avenue Jail, where he spent the next 12 days, before a judge dismissed the charges against him.

Sure, Martinez-Villaman was driving without a license, an offense that rarely warrants detention, let alone nearly two weeks behind bars. The fact that he is brown, Martinez-Villaman says, led MCSO deputies to hold him as a possible illegal immigrant while they sorted out his status.

"They didn't recognize my visa," he says. "They thought it was fake."

Now, more than a year after the incident, Martinez-Villaman plans to sue the MCSO for arresting him based on the color of his skin.

Martinez-Villaman is one of many who claim Sheriff Joe Arpaio's forces are actively racially profiling brown people.

"This is one of those immigration-sweep cases that was conducted, and he was swept up," said his attorney, Scott Halveston. "This is a case where he provided [deputies] with documentation to show he was here legally, and despite that, he was still arrested and kept in jail."

For two years, Martinez-Villaman, 33, had been working at Moon Valley Nursery with a renewable temporary visa known as H2B. He was raised doing farm work with his 16 brothers in La Tuna Vadiraguato, a town "with only seven houses" in Sinaloa, Mexico.

A friend told him that he could make better money in the United States, and he was able to obtain an H2B visa, which is given to foreign workers at companies that can demonstrate a shortage of labor in their particular industries.

In other words, he came to the United States the legal way. He came to fill a job that not enough U.S. citizens want.

He saved money to support his children in Mexico (ages 4, 9, and 11), sharing an apartment in Chandler with five other workers.

On the day of his encounter with the MCSO, he had all his paperwork on him, because he was in the process of renewing his work visa, which was to expire soon. He also had an Arizona ID issued by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division but hadn't gotten his driver's license because he wasn't sure whether he could take the test in Spanish.

About 3 in the afternoon, he pulled his car into a Circle K at Stapley and Broadway. He was dressed in his work clothes, literally covered in dirt, as he went into the store and pre-paid for gas. Before he got a chance to fill the tank, Detective Jeremy Templeton approached him, stating that he didn't use his turn signal when he entered the station.

Martinez-Villaman says the detective lied: "I did turn it on."

After he was arrested, the detective looked through Martinez-Villaman's papers — his Social Security card, his Arizona ID, and his visa documents — before asking the legal resident whether they were real.

"They're real," he told the officer, noting that the same picture was on the ID and the visa documents.

The MCSO claims there was no racial profiling of Martinez-Villaman, that he wasn't arrested under suspicion of being undocumented. Lieutenant Brian Lee, an MCSO spokesman, said people are often booked into jail for driving without a license.

But attorney Halverson notes that the MCSO had the option of giving Martinez-Villaman a citation — which happens in the vast majority of cases. And if the choice was to take him to jail, the attorney says, suspects are normally fingerprinted and released right away — they don't spend 12 days behind bars.

On June 28, Martinez-Villaman saw a judge, who set his bond at $360. He said he wasn't allowed to make a phone call.

A jailer told him his charges were so minimal that he didn't need an attorney, he recalled. Which — if he weren't brown — would have made him wonder why he was locked up.

Martinez-Villaman became desperate as the days passed and he couldn't call his children in Mexico, as he had regularly before being jailed.

His visa expired in jail, and he started wondering whether would be deported by immigration authorities.

"I thought maybe they were waiting for the expiration to deport me," he said.

Wanting to do everything by the book, he filed paperwork with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, asking whether ICE had placed a hold on him. He was told it had not.

At 2 a.m. on July 8, deputies told him he would be released because a judge had dismissed the charges against him.

By the time he got out of jail, his phone had been disconnected for non-payment. He returned to an empty apartment. Fearing similar arrest by the MCSO, his roommates had vanished.

He also lost his car and his $9.50-an-hour job, though he was rehired for $7.50.

The 2001 Daewoo he'd bought for $2,800 had been impounded by the MCSO. But when Martinez-Villaman was released, nobody would tell him what had happened to the car. Turned out an impound yard had taken title to the vehicle after 90 days because it was considered abandoned legally. By the time he located the vehicle, he was informed that it was too late to recover it. Besides, by then, it had $1,500 worth of storage fees that would have to be paid.

He never got his car back.

After he made his way back to his residence in Mesa, Martinez-Villaman was terrified. Now, he just feels indignation. How could somebody who played by the rules be treated this way in the country that is the symbol of liberty and equality?

"A majority of the people are supporting [Sheriff Joe Arpaio] here," said Martinez-Villaman. "Because he doesn't have to pay the lawsuits against him personally, he keeps going on with what he does."

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Sammendoza70
Sammendoza70

Im sick and tired of people or should i say WHITE PEOPLE saying that they are not racist when all i read is negetive comments about mexicans and mexican americans!So why not the racist white s go back to Europe!!People say mexico should fix their country i say why didnt whites or Europeans fix their country that way staying in Europe and not comming over to America and killing true Americans the indians and yes MEXICANS !!that would ofbeen good no rapings killings,slavery,stealing land ect...

roger
roger

If AZ is such a bad place to live why not go back to mexico

El Bruce
El Bruce

Better yet, we should give AZ back to Mexico.

Matt
Matt

That is great there are so many legal crossings, but this person was operating a vehicle without a licence and insurance. The big problem for us citizens, is these people with out a licence or insurance get into accidents, and then run for the boarder to evade the consequences. Leaving us holding the bag. Now I have to but insurance against uninsured and underinsured motorists. Thanks Mexicans! Driving is a privaledge not a right. If you can't play by the rules, then you are taking a chance.

El Bruce
El Bruce

1. He was here legally.

2. What about citizens who drive without a license or insurance? Why don't I hear you complaining about them?

Emil Pulsifer
Emil Pulsifer

Powerful reporting. Too bad it wasn't in the print edition as well, where it would have insured the widest possible audience. I didn't even notice this story online until today.

In a related note, there is the fact that FAR MORE Mexicans come to the United States LEGALLY than ILLEGALLY:

"From July 2007 through June 2008, 24 million Mexicans legally crossed into Arizona, according to a study by the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management. That's roughly 65,000 people a day. Some families make weekly visits to Tucson to shop.

"Compare that to illegal immigration.

"The Border Patrol reports that 317,696 illegal immigrants were apprehended in fiscal 2008 in the Tucson Sector, which covers most of Arizona's southern border. That's 870 people a day.

"Even if you assume that 10 migrants get through for every one the Border Patrol catches, there still are far fewer illegal immigrants crossing the border than there are Mexicans entering the country legally.

"That's border reality.

"And those legal visitors lighten their wallets in Arizona.

"According to researchers at Eller, legal Mexican visitors spent an estimated $2.69 billion in Arizona from July 2007 through June 2008. In inflation adjusted dollars, that was up 147.7 percent from 2001."

http://www.azcentral.com/arizo...

Coz
Coz

Easy answer to this question....

Because 52% of them are uneducated voting morons.

>>I don't understand why the citizens of Maricopa County are still voting for this idiot.

Shannon
Shannon

I don't understand why the citizens of Maricopa County are still voting for this idiot. He is costing you millions of dollars in lawsuits. Hey if you want to keep shelling out your hard earned money that's fine I'm just glad that I live in a county where the sheriff follows the law. My town also works with immigration but never once has anybody filed a lawsuit and complained.

Bill
Bill

Sorry, I can't type. It sounded like he was arrested for Failing to Provide Identification and not for Driving Without A License. He got the Criminal Misdemeanor arrest which would seem entirely appropriate for his situation.

Bill
Bill

From what I read it sounds like he wasn't arrested for without a license, it sounds like he was arrested for Driving Without A License (ARS 28-3151.A), but was arrested for Failing to Provide Identification (28-1595.B). Not having a license is a Civil Traffic offense, but not having appropriate identification that meets ARS-determined criteria for identification is a Misdemeanor. To operate a motor vehicle one needs a Driver's License that has height, weight, hair and eye color, etc... and it has to be a Driver's License, not immigration documents.

It sounds like a valid criminal arrest. It also sounds like his vehicle was impounded under ARS 28-3511, which requires a 30 day impound under Arizona State Law for the vehicle being driven by a person that that has never had a Driver's License in any jurisdiction. I'll be the person in this article presented a Mexican Consular Card instead of a Mexican Driver's License.

I don't see a problem here.

Seeking answers
Seeking answers

Chad Snow is spot on! There's a pattern to what happens immediately after an arrest, thrown into arpaio's jail and car impounded. This is nothing but a scam to destroy people. Check out how the senior citizen tennis players were handled up in Sun City West by MCSO arpaio and his goons and an HOA violating people's rights. Let's hear about this case. It isn't just illegals. Police abuse is Police abuse. 5 cars show up, the elderly man is thrown down, kneed in the back, handcuffed, bleeding profusely so the Fire Department as to be called -- what did all that cost? The judge threw the case out -- these elderly men should also sue the Hell out of the MCSO and the County. Actually, the arpaio/thomas/pearce and their supporters should pay for these lawsuits.

Seeking answers
Seeking answers

Chad Snow is spot on! There's a pattern to what happens immediately after an arrest, thrown into arpaio's jail and car impounded. This is nothing but a scam to destroy people. Check out how the senior citizen tennis players were handled up in Sun City West by MCSO arpaio and his goons and an HOA violating people's rights. Let's hear about this case. It isn't just illegals. Police abuse is Police abuse. 5 cars show up, the elderly man is thrown down, kneed in the back, handcuffed, bleeding profusely so the Fire Department as to be called -- what did all that cost? The judge threw the case out -- these elderly men should also sue the Hell out of the MCSO and the County. Actually, the arpaio/thomas/pearce and their supporters should pay for these lawsuits.

AZJayMan
AZJayMan

For all you clowns out there:

This man was in the US legally. He has a valid work visa. Detaining him in a sweltering van and jailing him for 12 days is excessive, considering his only offense was being Mexican.

Note to County Attorney Andrew Thomas: You had better stop the cocksucking between Sheriff Joe, the MCSO and yourself. I don't pay you to be a dumbfuck. I pay you to zealously represent the citizens of this county, and you sir are not doing that. I could put monkeys in your office, and I guarantee you those monkeys would actually lower crime in Maricopa County, and citizens would be better off because they can actually go to Circle K and not be bullied by the police.

Note to the MCSO and Sheriff Joe: Unless I am being reimbursed at your expense all the lawsuit judgments entered against you, stop targeting people who have brown skin. I don't give two shits if the people you arrest are green aliens from Mars. These citizens have Constitutional rights afforded to them. If, at any time, you do not have probable cause to arrest someone, you don't arrest them.

As for the man cited: Sue for all you are entitled to, and more. You have rights here. This is America. Good luck.

Tina
Tina

What a nightmare for this man!

The August 21 Phoenix New Times carried an article about MCSO's 168 ICE-trained officers -- "Joe Arpaio's 168 287(g) Officers: Name, Rank, Serial Numbers, etc." and a link was provided to a list identifying each of those "specially trained" 168 officers. Jeremy Templeton is on the list, identified here as the "detective" who followed this man into the convenience store parking lot...for the sole claim that the man didn't use his turn signal??? Yeah, sure, just like he would have followed an anglo man or woman into the parking lot ("I enforce all the laws and don't discriminate")for the same alleged purpose during MCSO's much publicized Mesa "sweep" mission in June 2008.

Then we read,

"Martinez-Villaman says the detective lied: 'I did turn it on.'"

"After he was arrested, the detective looked through Martinez-Villaman's papers � his Social Security card, his Arizona ID, and his visa documents � before asking the legal resident whether they were real.

"'They're real,' he told the officer, noting that the same picture was on the ID and the visa documents."

If "detective" Templeton skipped class, or if there was no 287(g) class instruction on how to validate any or all of those particular legitimate documents for authenticity, why didn't Templeton call ICE right there for a how-to-do-it lesson?

And TWELVE days in the hoosgow? It took TWELVE days for Arpaio's 287(g) trained specialists or ICE itself to determine that the man's documents were authentic? Or was that time in jail spent because our we-treat-everybody-equally sheriff requires the same of ALL people who have been cited for having no drivers license?

Roro
Roro

Why am I not surprised?

Roger Morris
Roger Morris

It goes like this! By striking; Attorney General, while in the consultation of the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, while in the consultation with the Commissioner of Social Security, while in consultation with the Secretary of the Interior, while in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture, by inserting EEVS, REAL ID, SANCTIONS, and the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alberto Gonzalez, The Bush Administration.

It was Papers Please since 2003 Great Alberto Gonzales Mexican Slave Trade Memo! Border Security, "ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY" at the border Immigration Reform ACT!

It was like rewriting the Fifth Reich all over again. Then with 4.4 billion dollars in a BORDER SECURITY ACCOUNT, and a HIGH IIMPACT within 100 miles of the border you got 20% of the GRANT MONEY. Go figure, GRANT MONEY to detain, render, arrest and FORCE the ATTESTATION of one's citizenship and or naturalization. So now you know who the REAL COYOTE was in AMERICA!

James Bailey
James Bailey

Is false arrest a crime? Yes.Is false imprisonment a crime? Yes.Is this deputy and the MSCO criminals? Yes.

Would this qualify as a hate crime? Yes.

Book em Danno.

Roro
Roro

Of course, they held him. How can you do Ethnic Cleansing without Ethnic Profiling? It only makes sense.

Deniseaz
Deniseaz

right on the mark Chad

even so , how much is this kind of bad actions from the JOKKE and goons going to cost the tax payers? how much fire dept cuts ? how much no street repairs ? how much not enough drinking water ?

the inbreeds that support this kind of wrongful actions by JOKKKE and yet Candy Andy too , they just want all others not like them to get harrassed . jailed and treated inhumaneso they can get their jollies .

sick this is , just fully sick

they do not care of any thing other than someone speaks differently , looks different , has differeent values .

and JOKKKe plays this all to the fullest and a bit over the line for thier support . this man who had this done to has all the right to take this to the fullest he can , it is far over the line JOKKKE did go on this one , way to far , totaly to far .

Chad Snow
Chad Snow

Bonner Big's comment is indicative of how most nativists truly feel about immigration. They say they are all for immigration as long as it's legal - but they really are just against brown people. They wrap themselves in the flag and the Constitution, but don't allow others the same privilege.

The bottom line is that they see white hegemony slowly coming to an end in our society, whether it be a "negro president" or a lot of Mexicans at the grocery store, they don't like it.

Now the question is, how much is 12 days in jail, losing your house, your job, and your car worth?

howie6870
howie6870

hey "bonner" he is in this country because he is working a crappy job none of us spoiled americans would think of doing for a mere $7.50/hr. would you do his job for that amount of pay? i highly doubt it. imagine the price for everything from produce to palm trees increasing drastically overnight if employers had to hire americans and pay them what they think they are worth. you would be the first one crying about paying more for your wife-beaters and chewin tabackee. idiot!

Truth Hurts
Truth Hurts

Hey bonner big, you ask where the "in sanity will stop." I'll tell ya where it started, right between your ears! And in your case, it's permanent and incurable!

Roaul
Roaul

Hey "bonner big:"

You're a real bright one, aren't you?

"lets see 2 misdermieners..."

What the hell is a "misdermiener?"

What a retard.

Fuck Arpaio
Fuck Arpaio

hey dumb fuck, he was here legally...what is it with you Bozo Joe retards that you don't understand about illegal.

bonner big
bonner big

why is this guy still here ? doesnt he realize 80% of american citizens have already voiced there opinion on law breaking illegal immigrants ( driving with out a license ,no insurance, bogus registration) we want them deported.. lets see 2 misdermieners and 1 felony. wow whats next a car accident. he broke the law his visa should be revoked and this peon should have been deported the day he was released. when will the in sanity stop? i guess when he finaly kills someone

 
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