Phoenix police recently arrested two kidnapping "victims" in a case that shows the challenges of investigating immigration-related crime.
The incident occurred a few days ago, when police received a call about a suspected kidnapping involving a migrant, says. Lt. Lauri Burgett of the Phoenix police, who helps oversee a task force on home invasions and kidnappings.
Police went to the home of the people who had taken the call from the kidnappers, who wanted a ransom to release the victim. It's a typical scenario: Smugglers bring up illegal immigrants who pay a fee, then hold the migrants in a safehouse somewhere in Phoenix while family members are extorted for more money.
But then the victim's buddies told police the kidnappers had released their friend in Mexico.
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Police quickly figured out they were being lied to, and the victim's compadres -- who the police considered victims themselves -- confessed the kidnapped person was still being held against his will in the United States. On top of that, there were illegal drugs in the home, Burgett says.
"They wanted to just pay for the guy and get him back -- without police involvement," she says. "We ended up booking both 'victims.'"
Yet another reason to fix the broken immigration system.