Arpaio Boasts of Arresting 4,000 Illegal Immigrants in Under Four Months

It sounds like Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has really turned up the heat on illegal immigrants. We did a double-take this morning after reading the following stat online. But then we saw the statement that Arpaio handed out yesterday at a news conference, which had the same figure:

The sheriff's office has arrested more than 4,000 illegal immigrants since March 10.

Most of these immigrants were turned over to the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for a quick trip back to Mexico, where many of them -- no doubt -- high-tailed it straight back to the USA. County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced in April that his agency had prosecuted 1,000 illegal immigrants in three years on self-smuggling charges, so obviously just a few of the 4,000 spent much time in jail.

Still, the sheriff's office mug shot look-up shows three pages of illegal immigrants who were recently thrown in jail, most on suspicion of the controversial -- though court-approved -- criminal charge of conspiring to smuggle themselves into the country. We've included photos of those people above.

Representing the darker side of smuggling are four suspected kidnappers who were arrested in the last few days, all illegal immigrants themselves:

The Arizona Republic didn't mention the stat in its story today about Arpaio's refusal to cooperate with a Justice Department investigation. But it did say that unless the department says what it thinks the sheriff's office did wrong, Arpaio's office won't give investigators "access to documents."

The Justice Department could always take a cue from the sheriff's office: File a nice, fat public records request.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.