4
| Arpaio |

Sheriff Arpaio's Office, in Seeming Defiance of Judge, Arrests Five Suspected Illegal Immigrants on Human-Smuggling Charges

^
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.

 

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office arrested five men last night on suspicion of human smuggling and conspiracy, days after a federal judge's ruling on such investigations.

Looks like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, under more pressure than ever to reform his ways, is sticking to his statement that he won't stop his enforcement operations against illegal immigrants.

Arpaio, who's in Iowa stumping on behalf of presidential candidate Rick Perry, will likely comment on the arrests tomorrow, says MCSO spokesman Lieutenant Jesse Spurgin.

In a major racial-profiling lawsuit against the sheriff's office on Friday, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow issued an order that restricts the way the sheriff's office can conduct human-smuggling investigations. Snow ruled that MCSO can't detain someone solely on the belief that the person might be in the country illegally.

The sheriff's office has been using the legal concept, (which Snow says isn't legally sound), to further its investigations on the street of immigrants suspected of smuggling themselves or others into the country.

If Snow expected this to put a temporary halt to arrests of foreign nationals on state human-smuggling charges, he was wrong.

In looking at the booking paperwork for the suspects, it appears to us that this investigation was just the sort the judge was talking about.

Arpaio had his human smuggling detectives staking out the area near the intersection of Interstate 17 and Carefree Highway last night, and they pounced when they saw a brown Chevy Astro Van with California plates that looked like it was speeding.

Deputies followed the van, noting that it traveled up to 58 mph in a 45 mph zone, and had changed lanes to exit on Carefree Highway westbound without signaling. Under these pretexts, the human smuggling detectives pulled over the van.

A deputy saw right away that a middle bench to the van had been removed and the vehicle was packed with 12 people, some lying down on the floor with no space to move freely.

The Spanish-speaking passengers were disheveled, dusty and nervous. They had no luggage.

In other words, it appeared to detectives that the group was in the country illegally.

"At this point, detectives recognized this as a human smuggling incident," a deputy wrote in court paperwork.

Based on this suspicion, they began to further investigate the possible crime of human smuggling. Isn't this method of investigation precisely what Judge Snow was talking about? Sure seems that way to us.

As you can see from one of the booking sheets below, some of the immigrants made admissions and were subsequently booked into jail -- with no-bond status recommended, due to Prop 100.

We'll check in with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau today to find out how they were involved. On December 16, ICE canceled its agreement to let county detention officers act as federal immigration oficers in Maricopa jails and announced that 50 ICE agents would be assigned to the jail to take up the slack.

Arpaio wrote in an opinion article published yesterday in USA Today that the federal government was trying to put MCSO "out of the illegal immigration enforcement business" because of politics.

It's just one more of Arpaio's silly conspiracy theories. Everyone's against him, he thinks -- from civil rights leaders to the Justice Department to judges like Snow, who was appointed by President Bush.

Busting more Mexicans, he supposes, might help convince his supporters that he's right.

Cervante Lozano Form 4

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.