4
| News |

Arizona Appeals Court Upholds Conspiracy Conviction for Illegal Immigrant

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

By Ray Stern

The case of Adolfo Guzman-Garcia came to symbolize the ineptness of Maricopa County Andrew Thomas' scheme to prosecute illegal immigrants for conspiracy to smuggled themselves into the country -- in the beginning, anyway.

With a ruling last week by the Arizona Court of Appeals, though, the case now represents another victory for Thomas on the issue.

Adolfo Guzman-Garcia was among the first illegal immigrants to be tried under a novel plan hatched by Thomas to apply a conspiracy angle to the state's 2005 anti-human-smuggling law. Thomas' plan was condemned by pro-immigration advocates, and when a jury found Guzman-Garcia guilty, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Thomas O'Toole threw out the conviction.

Since then, though, a similar conviction of another immigrant on conspiracy charges was upheld in July by the Appeals Court. The same day that news was announced, Thomas held a press conference to say he'd prosecuted more than 750 immigrants under the conspiracy interpretation. A New Times article at the time pointed out the cost to jail those people cost county taxpayers more than $5 million.

Last week, the Appeals Court upheld Guzman-Garcia's conviction, leaving no doubt -- if there was any left -- that prosecutors in Arizona can charge immigrants with smuggling themselves.

Still, no prosecutors from other Arizona counties have taken Thomas' lead. Neither have prosecutors with the state Attorney General's office. And apparently, no other Arizona law enforcement agency besides the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has even submitted such charges for prosecution.

Whether the Appeals Court decisions means more counties will start charging immigrants this way -- or whether the state could afford such a wide-scale prosecution effort -- is yet to be seen.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.