Sheriff plans immigration sweep west of Phoenix

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PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio plans the latest in a series of "crime suppression" sweeps on Friday in a rural area west of Phoenix.

Area a "hotbed of human smuggling"

An estimated 200 deputies and posse volunteers will fan out near Interstate 10 and Miller Road near the town of Buckeye.

Arpaio calls the area "a hotbed of human smuggling" that breeds violence. The sheriff's office says the bodies of 11 murder victims have been found in the area in the past five years, all determined to be illegal immigrants.

The sheriff conducted four similar sweeps in the Phoenix area last year, drawing the ire of activists who accused him of targeting illegal immigrants and abusing their rights.

Deputies will conduct traffic stops, and if they find suspected illegal immigrants they'll arrest them.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)