Police Arrest Six Illegal Immigrants in Human Smuggling Operation; Cops Find a Bunch of Weed Too
Police arrested six illegal immigrants in Phoenix Wednesday, accusing them of charges ranging from human smuggling, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion -- and, for good measure, possessing 160 pounds of weed.
IIMPACT, the Illegal Immigration Prevention & Apprehension Co-op Team, arrested six men in connection with their investigation: Francisco Ruben Martinez-Granillo, Marco Antonio Inzuna-Celis, Luis Fernando Lara-Chavez, Irving Mora-Nape, Benjimin Lopez-Munoz, and Bernardino Parada-Garcia.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, the investigation started in January, when family members told police they were being extorted for $2,000 for the return of a man smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico.
Before the man's family posted the $2,000 ransom, he told them he was being beaten in a Phoenix house, and men threatened to kill him if they didn't get the money. (Check out last year's New Times cover story on the human-smuggling business in the Valley here.)
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Once freed, the man told police others were getting the same treatment inside the house, located on the 1100 block of East Garfield Street.
The task force executed a warrant on the house Wednesday, whereupon they discovered two .38-caliber handguns and eight garbage bags containing 160 pounds of pot hidden in the ceiling.
That same day, the kidnapped man identified two men in a photo lineup, Martinez-Granillo and Inzuna-Celis, as the men who had kidnapped him.
Inzuna-Celis told police he was a driver for a human smuggling organization, and worked with men who would take illegal immigrants from the desert at gunpoint.
He told cops he was paid $1,000 to drive the victims and gunmen to Phoenix, and was also in charge of releasing those who paid a ransom.
Police say all six of the men arrested admitted to being in the United States illegally.