Associated Press, Feb. 12
MESA, Ariz. — Authorities have uncovered more than 160 illegal immigrants packed into an upscale home and arrested several men believed to be human smugglers.
The immigrants were found Wednesday at a house along a golf course near the Phoenix-Scottsdale border, said Russell L. Ahr, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Some were locked in bedrooms and others said they hadn’t eaten in three days.
“They were sitting shoulder to shoulder, back to back. You could not see the carpet,” Ahr said.
Authorities said none of the three bathrooms in the 2,400-square-foot home was working and there was no furniture and no food other than canned goods brought by immigrants.
About 60 of the men, women and juveniles were found locked in bedrooms with deadbolts, leading investigators to think they might have been hostages.
Ahr said the immigrants came from Mexico and Central America, with those from Mexico paying their transporters between $1,200 and $1,500 and others paying as much as $6,000.
Two weapons recovered inside the home, an AK-47 assault rifle and a 9mm handgun, were probably used by the smugglers to intimidate the immigrants and keep them from fleeing, authorities said.
U.S. immigration officials, FBI agents and Phoenix detectives participated in the roundup that required more than two buses and three vans to transport the immigrants downtown.
They were fed, fingerprinted, photographed and then checked against federal databases for criminal and immigration histories. Ahr said those without prior infractions would be transported to the border and released.
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