Traffic stop leads to drop house investigation

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The following is a press release from the Arizona Department of Public Safety:

PHOENIX -- On Dec. 4, 2008, at about 5:00 p.m. a DPS Highway Patrol officer attempted to stop a Toyota Sienna minivan on Interstate 10 near Tonopah. The Toyota slowed and pulled off to the shoulder. Two subjects ran from the vehicle into the desert but were apprehended by IIMPACT detectives. When the Toyota stopped, seven other passengers ran into the desert. All six passengers were taken to the IIMPACT office for processing. The driver, Paxtor-Alvarez Roberson, was taken to Phoenix Police headquarters and charged with human smuggling. All were determined to be natives of Mexico or Guatemala.

The subjects apprehended from the Toyota told IIMPACT detectives they were smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. The smuggling fees they were charged were in excess of $5,000. The illegal immigrants also stated they had been held at a residence located at 7983 W. Lumbee St. in Phoenix. IIMPACT detectives placed the house under surveillance. They observed a Ford Explorer leave the residence. The Ford was later pulled over by a DPS Highway Patrol officer. The driver was determined to be on probation for human smuggling and had been previously deported from the U.S. Both subjects were charged with human smuggling.

A short time later another vehicle was seen leaving the house. Phoenix Police stopped the vehicle at I-10 and 83rd Avenue. As officers interviewed a passenger, the Nissan Pathfinder fled the scene to 83rd Avenue and McDowell Road where the remaining occupants fled the scene. The four were eventually apprehended. Two subjects were determined to be suspected human smugglers. They were taken to Phoenix Police headquarters and were charged with human smuggling.

At 8:48 p.m. that night, DPS Special Operations Unit made entry into the residence. Five suspected human smugglers were arrested on scene. A total of eight illegal immigrants were transported to the IIMPACT office for processing. Detectives found ammunition, an SK-47 assault weapon and ledgers were found inside the residence.

IIMPACT (Illegal Immigration Prevention & Apprehension Co-op Team) was formed almost a year ago. It is a multi-agency project managed by GIITEM of the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) that is designed to address rising crime associated with illegal immigration. IIMPACT is comprised of personnel from DPS, Phoenix Police, ICE and the Arizona Fraudulent Identification Task Force (AFIT). As the name implies, local, state and federal police agencies combine forces to impact international human smuggling organizations operating.