Overloaded van leads deputies to human smuggling arrest

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The following news release was sent by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office:

BLACK CANYON CITY - On December 8, 2008, at approximately 8:30 P.M., a Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputy drove to the parking lot of the Rock Springs Caf on Old Black Canyon Highway in Black Canyon City, regarding a suspicious vehicle. The Department of Public Safety had originally received a call from an informant who reported a white Chevy Van in the parking lot overloaded with occupants. As the deputy arrived in the area, the white van pulled out of the parking lot and eventually entered the northbound I17. The van was traveling well below the speed limit and appeared unusually low in the back due to excessive weight.

YCSO Communications relayed the location of the van to area DPS officers who waited along the I17 to assist the YCSO deputy with the traffic stop. Once in sight of DPS vehicles, the deputy conducted a traffic stop of the Texas plated vehicle, and contacted driver Irineo Arizmendi, a 32-year-old Texas resident. The deputy discovered 16 passengers, all apparent illegal aliens, crammed inside the van. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office was contacted via phone and authorized an immigration hold on all occupants.

During the on scene investigation, deputies discovered the vehicle had been previously impounded by DPS as a result of human smuggling. YCSO also impounded the vehicle pending further investigation with ICE for a possible permanent vehicle seizure.

The 16 detainees were transported to the Camp Verde Detention Center pending transfer to ICE custody. Arizmendi was arrested for 16 counts of Human Smuggling and booked at the Camp Verde Detention Center.