Maricopa County Sheriff's Deputies Work Off-Duty at Nightclub Popular With Immigrants

Club Cabo is the kind of nightclub that makes Mexicans feel at home, so to speak.

With thumping Spanish-language and world music, plus bilingual employees, the downtown Mesa club has served the Hispanic community for years -- including the community's undocumented immigrant partiers.

In an interesting twist, the crowd seems to mix well with the folks who provide security for the place: Off-duty Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies.

Ironically, the same agency that casts nets for unauthorized Mexican workers on the roadways and in Mesa's City Hall makes sure that immigrants having fun at Club Cabo do so safely.

Of course, as at any establishment that serves alcohol, safety isn't always assured. The club made headlines recently after an argument that began there last weekend turned into a gunfight a few blocks away. One person was killed and two injured; police in Tucson arrested the illegal immigrant suspect on his way back to Mexico.

A woman who answered the phone at the club today did not want to comment for this article. Most likely, the choice to use deputies probably saves the club money over private security, and Mesa police policies don't allow city officers to work off-duty like the deputies can.

Seeing deputies at a place like Club Cabo may make some patrons pause, considering the bombastic, anti-illegal-immigrant fervor coming from the deputies' boss, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

But in this tiny corner of a Hispanic neighborhood in Mesa, a strange detante exists between the sheriff's office and immigrants like nowhere else, seeming to prove that maybe we can all just get along. -- Ray Stern

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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.
Contact: Ray Stern