MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. -- Eleven illegal immigrants were smuggled into Maricopa County with the help of a smuggler who has been deported four times, according to the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies that are part of MCSO's Human Smuggling Unit say they were conducting an investigation Monday afternoon in the Southeast Valley when they spotted a suspicious truck. When deputies approached, the front-seat passenger ran off, and went through a strip mall. The suspect wasn't found.
The driver of the truck was arrested. When deputies looked in the bed of the truck, they found 10 illegal immigrants under a tarp.
All 11 reportedly admitted to paying between $2,500 and $4,000 to be illegally smuggled into the U.S. They were headed to Florida, New York, North Carolina, Atlanta, California, Kentucky and Phoenix. Two men in the group admitted to being from Guatemala, and the rest of the group admitted to being from Mexico. All crossed illegally into the U.S. through Altar, according to MCSO.
"The entry into Maricopa County by illegal aliens continues to increase despite the numerous arrests made by my deputies," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
Deputies say the main smuggler has had run-ins with the law before, including unlawful flight from law enforcement and leaving the scene of an accident. He has also been deported four times, two of which have been part of the Criminal Alien Program, according to MCSO. The man was last deported on Nov. 29, 2010. He also had an active warrant for his arrest when he was discovered in the truck.