Traffic stop results in the arrest of 15 illegal immigrants

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

At about 6:50 a.m., this morning, an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Officer on patrol in the East Valley conducted a traffic stop which led to an investigation being conducted by Detectives from the Illegal Immigration Prevention & Apprehension Co-op Team (IIMPACT).

The DPS Officer conducted a traffic stop on a Ford Expedition for unsafe lane usage on Interstate 10 westbound near Chandler Boulevard.The Ford Expedition did not immediately come to a stop when it was apparent the driver recognized the emergency equipment of the marked DPS patrol vehicle.After traveling some distance on the emergency shoulder at a very slow speed the Expedition finally yielded and came to a stop.

The Officer observed that driver was wearing a hood trying to conceal his face and also noticed there was one person in the front passenger seat along with several people lying down in the area of the second and third row of seats.Based on the suspicious activity of the placement of the occupants, other indicators of criminal behavior and inconsistent responses from the driver, the Officer decided to release the driver, issue a written warning and allow the vehicle to continue down the road in order to obtain additional resources to further check the vehicle and its occupants.IIMPACT Detectives and other DPS units were requested to assist and were able to conduct a surveillance of the Expedition's movement.

The Expedition was followed to an apartment complex in Mesa (221-225 South Stapley) where the driver led all the occupants to apartment #102.With the assistance of Mesa Police Department units, a "check welfare procedure" was performed at the apartment and 12 people (including the driver) were found inside.IIMPACT Detectives identified all the individuals as undocumented aliens from Mexico and Guatemala.Information obtained through interviews conducted by the Detectives led them to check another apartment in the same complex (225 South Stapley), where three additional undocumented aliens were identified.All 15 were detained, interviewed and will be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for disposition.It is unknown at this time where the group initially crossed into the United States and what the final destination would have been for this group.

Roger Vanderpool, DPS Director, notes that the skilled action displayed by the DPS Officer in this investigation is indicative of how the intense interdiction training of DPS Officers has paid off time and time again.The DPS Officers on patrol use various skills in performing traffic enforcement which directly extends also into criminal interdiction.It is believed that the photo enforcement program that is in use statewide has been an added tool to allow the Officers to spend more time focusing on criminal interdiction and addressing other serious traffic violations.