5 arrested in alleged human-smuggling operation


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on November 1, 2013 at 7:20 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 10 at 12:15 PM

Map: 67th Avenue and Camelback

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PHOENIX -- Five people were arrested in connection with a suspected human-smuggling operation Friday morning.

Officers from Mesa, Phoenix and Glendale, along with U.S. Marshals, HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) and ICE, served search warrants at a home in the area of 67th Avenue and Camelback Road.

It started with a tip about a possible coyote kidnapping incident the Mesa Police Department received Thursday night.

The tactical team forced their way into the home, going in first because officers and agents had no idea what to expect. All they knew was that at least 12 people were inside the house. Those people ran out the back, scattering as officers entered the home.

Mesa police confirmed Friday afternoon that a total of five people had been arrested.

Those individuals have been identified as Jesus German-Zapien, Mario Florez-Sapien, Mariantonieta Cantua Alvarado, David Noe Sapien, and Jose Hernandez-Padres. 

Aerial video from Chopper 3 showed several people sitting on the sidewalk outside the house.

According to Mesa police, the victim wanted to come to the U.S. Once she arrived, however, she said she was held against her will inside the Phoenix house while the alleged coyotes demanded a ransom from her family.

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