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.)

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.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley